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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

State

Redistricting will affect November election


After the major power shift in the 2010 midterm elections, redistricting became a priority when 2010 Census granted Texas four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The point of contention for these district lines, laid out by Democratic congressman Gene Green representing the 29th U.S. Congressional District of Texas, will now affect the November congressional elections.
“Early on after the 2010 census, we did have some of us who sat down with our Republican members, and generally we agreed — now of course, (congressmen) don’t have a vote; the legislature is the one who actually does it — to split the four seats two and two,” Green said.
“As Democrats we would still be competitive in the two we lost in East Texas and West Texas and so we had a chance to pick up four seats.”
For Democrats like Green, a topic of concern during redistricting was the common practice of gerrymandering, a process where districts are drawn to favor one political party or another.
Political science professor Jennifer Clark says that gerrymandering is an active issue in most states, including Texas.
“The redistricting process has important consequences for voters. In some states, incumbent legislators work together to protect their own seats, which produces less competition in the political system,” Clark said. “Voters may feel as though they do not have a meaningful alternative to the incumbent legislator. Legislators who lack competition in their districts have less incentive to adhere to their constituents’ opinions.”
A poll conducted by the Support for Independent Redistricting Commission in July 2008 found that 45.5 percent of respondents favored the creation of an independent redistricting commission — compared to 19.5 percent who opposed and 35 percent who were unsure — with broad support across party lines.
According to Green, Texas had a history of denying minorities proper representation through racial gerrymandering during the 1960s and 1970s.
“There’s still gerrymandering going on. State Rep. Carol Alvarado told me that the state legislature plan, that was redone by the federal courts, did not create one new Hispanic State representative district of the 150 districts, which to me is an open-and-shut case of a violation of the Voting Rights Act,” Green said.
“You have 80 percent minority growth, mainly Hispanic, and you couldn’t find a way to create at least one Hispanic district?”
Texas Democrats sued and U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said in late August these  districts were redrawn in a discriminatory manor.
Political science senior Charles Prothro is one of the voters who is displeased with this outcome.
“To the victors get the spoils: Essentially what they’re doing by stepping in and redrawing these lines, they’re overturning an election,” Prothro said. “The people of Texas voted the Republicans in as the majority, which, prior, many majorities in the past were Democrat. The Republicans won the majority, and they won the right to draw the maps as they saw fit.”
While racial gerrymandering is not legal, the political version still is. Clark said this is still an issue for Texas voters.
“Serious reforms are necessary but will only take place if the media and public advocate for change,” Clark said.
To find locations for the November congressional election, go to www.tlc.state.tx.us/redist/redist.htm.
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