Texas Governor Approves State Voting Maps Redrawn By GOP

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FILE - In this June 8, 2021, file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas. Texas Republicans approved on Monday, Oct. 18 redrawn U.S. House maps that favor incumbents and decrease political representation for growing minority communities, even as Latinos drive much of the growth in the nation’s largest red state. Abbott is expected to sign off on the changes. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

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Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed redrawn voting maps that pave a safer path for the GOP’s slipping majority, leaving opponents hoping courts will block the newly gerrymandered districts before they can be used in the 2022 elections.

Abbott signed the maps Monday, according to a spokeswoman for the governor. The governor’s office did not make an announcement.

Civil rights groups have already filed federal lawsuits that accuse GOP mapmakers of disenfranchising Hispanic and Black residents who are driving the state’s rapid growth. Texas added 4 million new residents since 2010, but under the new U.S. House maps, Republicans added no new districts where Latinos hold a majority.

The new maps end a highly charged year over voting rights in Texas, where Democrats this summer left the state to begin a 38-day holdout in protest of a sweeping elections overhaul.

“The only time that communities of color can get justice is going to the courthouse,” Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia said before the final vote on the maps in the Texas House last week.

The newly signed maps mark an end to the state’s once-in-a-decade redistricting process in which lawmakers decide how Texas’ nearly 30 million residents are sorted into political districts and who is elected to represent them. Texas was the only state awarded two additional congressional seats in the 2020 census, increasing the state’s already outsize political clout.

The state’s Mexican American Legislative Caucus, who are mostly Democrats, are seeking documents over who had a hand in the drawing of the maps. The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, along with other minority and voting advocacy groups, have also filed a separate lawsuit challenging the maps in a federal court.

According to Census figures, more than 9 of 10 new Texans in the last decade were people of color.

Texas Republicans have defended the maps, saying race was not taken into account, except for when preserving equal representation. Republican state Sen. Joan Huffman, who authored the maps and leads the Senate Redistricting Committee, told fellow lawmakers that they were “drawn blind to race.” She also said they were scrutinized by a legal team for violations of the Voting Rights Act.

Texas has had to defend redrawn district lines in court since the Voting Rights Act took effect, but this is the first time since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling said Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination no longer need to have the Justice Department scrutinize the maps before they are approved.

(AP)

1 COMMENT

  1. > Republicans added no new districts where Latinos hold a majority.

    What is that suppose to mean? Sounds like there were no new districts with non-White majority added at all? Clearly that is what the sentence was suppose to make the reader think. But note the following from the Texas Tribune dated 13 Oct 2021 (and notice the word “successful”):

    > State Rep. Rafael Anchía, a Dallas Democrat who chairs the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, authored a successful amendment that would update the previous House proposal to add two North Texas districts where Black residents are a majority of eligible voters. Anchía’s amendment also added one Dallas-area district where Hispanic residents are the majority of eligible voters