The 8-day preclearance trial wraps up in Washington today, but yesterday brought a stunning admission from the State of Texas' expert witness, Rice professor John Alford.
Put on the stand to testify about the treatment of minority groups under the state's maps, Alford testified under oath that the state's senate map hurts the ability of minorities in SD-10 in Tarrant County to elect their candidate of choice. That's, of course, the district currently represented by State Sen. Wendy Davis.
As reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Alford surprised Davis' attorney during questioning by agreeing that the reconfiguration of Davis' District 10 into four parts hurt minority voters and turned back the clock on the ability of blacks and Hispanics to vote for a candidate they prefer.
Davis' attorney, Gerry Hebert, asked Alford, “In 2008, black and Latino voters in District 10 demonstrated the ability to elect the candidate of their choice?”
Alford replied “yes” and that the candidate was Davis.
“Would you agree,” Hebert continued, “that under the state's proposed plan that the ability of minority voters in District 10 to elect the preferred candidate was retrogressed?”
“Gerry,” Alford said, “I couldn't agree with you more.”
Wow. Just wow.
And it's not the first time that Alford has agreed with groups challenging the state's maps. Back in September during the trial before the San Antonio court, Alford also testified that the state's congressional hurt Hispanics in CD-23. As reported at the time by the San Antonio Express-News:
also questioned how the Legislature redrew the lines for a current Latino-opportunity district that stretches from West Texas to San Antonio.
“I would not have done what was done to the 23rd,” Alford said. “(It's) less likely to perform” and elect a Latino. He later said the Legislature's changes to the district had invited a lawsuit.
He said the congressional redistricting plan for the 23rd Congressional district swapped out high-voter-turnout Latino precincts for low-turnout precincts, so the district became more Hispanic, while reducing the influence of the Hispanic voting bloc.
Changes to that district were highlighted in the complaints against the state.
That first concession brought out a firestorm of criticism among Republicans, as highlighted in the video below of the October meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee. One can only imagine what Republicans are saying now.
The Star-Telegram's full report is here.