AUSTIN – Lawmakers on Monday will start tackling the at all times combative technique of redrawing the state’s political maps, influencing for the subsequent decade who will get elected in Texas.
Right here’s what you’ll want to find out about that course of, known as redistricting, wherein politicians draw congressional, legislative and State Board of Training boundaries utilizing new inhabitants knowledge.
Who runs redistricting?
Republicans presently management the Legislature, which implies they run the redistricting course of. Democrats haven’t managed both chamber of the Legislature since 2002.
If lawmakers fail to agree on new state maps, the Legislative Redistricting Board will draw the district strains. The five-member group of statewide elected officers is made up of the lieutenant governor, speaker of the Texas Home, lawyer basic, comptroller and land commissioner.
Why are there lawsuits over redistricting?
The decennial deliberations following a U.S. Census are polarizing and end in modifications that may have an effect on communities and elections for years. Lawmakers can draw maps in a approach that advantages their get together’s political future so long as they don’t discriminate on the idea of race.
The method in Texas sometimes results in lawsuits, with voting rights teams difficult maps they are saying weaken the voting power of individuals of coloration.
This cycle’s authorized combat has already begun. Two Democratic state senators filed a lawsuit in early September to dam the Legislature from redistricting in a particular session this yr.
Gerrymandering ways to decrease a inhabitants group’s voting energy embody spreading the group throughout a number of districts and packing them in a single district. Strains are sometimes redrawn to pit incumbent lawmakers towards one another in an election.
“Texas has struggled for 5 a long time to attract maps that pretty deal with its minority communities,” mentioned Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Heart for Justice at New York College College of Legislation, who focuses on redistricting and voting rights. “That was the case when Democrats have been drawing maps, and it’s been the case since Republicans took over drawing the maps.”
What can Texans count on to occur this time?
Texas this cycle will add two U.S. Home seats to its present 36, fueled by fast inhabitants development, significantly amongst Hispanic residents. Seats within the state Home and state Senate stay mounted at 150 and 31, respectively.
“The influence of those maps may be very important, and it stands as an impediment for the minority get together to have the ability to regain majority standing,” mentioned Charles Rhodes, professor of legislation at South Texas Faculty of Legislation Houston. “Republicans are utilizing their benefit statewide to have a better proportion of illustration than their proportion of the inhabitants would in any other case enable them to have.”
This yr, GOP lawmakers in Texas have a clearer path towards drawing the strains they need, after a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court docket resolution diminished federal oversight on the method, political watchers and authorized consultants mentioned. In the meantime, unprecedented delays to publication of the 2020 census interrupted the standard reapportionment schedule.