July 11, 2017

7-11-2017 Liberal cities have no representation in Texas (Vox)

A major gerrymandering case in Texas gets off the ground today, as three judges will decide whether state lawmakers intentionally bypassed thousands of Hispanic and black voters when it drew up voting districts. [Texas Tribune / Cassandra Pollack]

  • Texas is a deeply Republican state, but it also has millions of Hispanic and black voters; white voters have actually been in the racial minority since the mid-2000s. [NPR / Farai Chideya]
  • Hispanic and black voters tend to cast their ballots for Democratic candidates, but Texas’s state legislature and its congressional delegation have remained deeply Republican for decades. [New Yorker / Lawrence Wright]
  • Texas maps have been very advantageous to Republicans, who won four more seats in the US House than they would if they hadn’t tweaked the districts, according to analysis from the Associated Press. [Associated Press / Will Weissert]
  • That’s in large part due to some very confusing voting districts. Most recently, when the time came to redraw voting districts in 2012, lawmakers produced maps with some very squiggly district lines. [Houston Chronicle / Matt Levin]
  • The result? Liberal cities like Austin get just a fraction of the representation of more Republican areas, because they are lumped in with conservative areas to dilute the power of Democratic voters. [KUT / Ashley Lopez]
  • Gerrymandering to give one political party an advantage is nothing new. Maps are typically drawn up by state legislatures, so they tend to reflect whichever party is in power. As a result, states that are split pretty evenly between Democrat and Republican voters end up heavily represented by one party or the other. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • The key question in Texas isn’t whether this was done to disadvantage a certain political party; instead, it’s about whether it disadvantages people of a certain race.
  • Hispanic and black voters tend to lean Democratic, so separating them into weakened voting districts can prompt the argument that lawmakers are discriminating on a racial basis. [Washington Post / Robert Barnes]
  • This argument has played out in other states. Most recently, the US Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina’s redistricting was racially motivated and without proper cause, which gave Democrats and voting rights activists alike a major win. That decision could also substantially weaken the Texas legislature’s case for keeping its districts as they are. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Three federal judges in San Antonio are set to decide the case in a week. They already decided that the maps violated federal law earlier this year, but the issue is back in court because they want the maps to be redrawn before 2018. [Texas Tribune / Cassandra Pollack]


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