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Redistricting

Texas Redistricting: Hoping Holder Saves Us


by: Kalyan Venkatraj

Thu Sep 12, 2013 at 02:01 AM CDT

Amidst the tumult of a twerking Miley Cyrus and the disheartening news of another potential foreign endeavor, it is difficult to find the stories that have an immediate impact on our political lives. Amanda Voeller of The Daily Texan has been covering a compelling political saga that documents our state's kleptocratic polity.

In 2011, a Republican dominated Texas legislature re-carved our congressional (both national and state) districts, disenfranchising thousands of black and Hispanic voters.The new districts slice minority votes with reckless abandon, making it harder for blocs to coalesce and elect candidates that cater to their needs. According to the Huffington Post Abbott qualified the constitutionality of the changes despite what he termed "incidental effects on minorities."


To read more about how redistricting will adversely affect us below the jump.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 416 words in story)

Texas Redistricting: Hoping Holder Saves Us


by: Kalyan Venkatraj

Thu Sep 12, 2013 at 02:00 AM CDT

Amidst the tumult of a twerking Miley Cyrus and the disheartening news of another potential foreign endeavor, it is difficult to find the stories that have an immediate impact on our political lives. Amanda Voeller of The Daily Texan has been covering a compelling political saga that documents our state's kleptocratic polity.

In 2011, a Republican dominated Texas legislature re-carved our congressional (both national and state) districts, disenfranchising thousands of black and Hispanic voters.The new districts slice minority votes with reckless abandon, making it harder for blocs to coalesce and elect candidates that cater to their needs. According to the Huffington Post Abbott qualified the constitutionality of the changes despite what he termed "incidental effects on minorities."


To read more about how redistricting will adversely affect us below the jump.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 416 words in story)

Federal Government Sues Texas Over SB 14 Voter ID Law


by: Edward Garris

Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 06:12 PM CDT

Texas had a bad week.  Tuesday, the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted to join Congressman Marc Veasey's federal lawsuit to block SB 14, Texas' Voter ID law, which he filed in June after the state announced that it would immediately implement the Voter ID law on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.  

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice filed  its own lawsuit to block the Voter ID law, in the same federal court where Rep. Veasey's suit is currently docketed.

To see how the federal government is responding to the discriminatory law, read below the jump.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 553 words in story)

Texas AG on Redistricting: We're Not Racist; Just Partisan


by: Edward Garris

Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 01:00 PM CDT

If you can't beat 'em, make 'em laugh?  Business Insider, at least, is getting a chuckle from the redistricting wars going on between U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.  

The battle over redistricting continues in federal court in San Antonio.  As Michael Li observed soon after the Supreme Court's ruling in Shelby County earlier this summer, Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act still offered relief where Section 5 did not: jurisdictions such as Texas could be "bailed in" - that is, compelled through due process by the federal government to go through preclearance before any state laws affecting voting rights can become effective.

To see Texas' bold(?) strategy, read below the jump.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 305 words in story)

Greg Abbott's Dishonest Op-Ed On Voter ID and Redistricting


by: Lone Star Project

Thu Aug 01, 2013 at 04:03 PM CDT

Originally posted at the Lone Star Project:

Over the last several days, Greg Abbott has engaged in a “CYA” exercise to hide his failure and incompetence as the Attorney General of Texas during the ongoing litigation involving redistricting and Voter ID. He failed to properly advise Texas legislative leaders to adopt fair and legal voting laws. Now he refuses to take responsibility for repeated defeats in the federal courts as he has defended these discriminatory laws. Instead, Abbott is obscuring the facts with a political attack on President Obama and making dishonest statements about the law and the pending litigation.

Below the jump is a recent Op-Ed by Greg Abbott published in the Washington Times. The Op-Ed is filled with false and otherwise misleading statements that while breathtaking in the sheer volume of lies, are easily rebutted. The rebuttals are included in after each of Abbott’s paragraphs. 

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 2137 words in story)

Experts: Texas Possibly Subject to Preclearance Under Voting Rights Act; Suits Filed


by: Edward Garris

Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 04:00 PM CDT

June saw the gutting of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court collaterally attacked Section 5 of the VRA, which requires preclearance of voting and elections laws by states such as Texas, by striking down Section 4.  By declaring Section 4 unconstitutional, the Court made it impossible to apply the Section 5 preclearance requirement.

Initial reaction focused on the presumptive death of the VRA and the almost certain enactment and implementation of discriminatory voting laws, yet much of that initial analysis neglected Section 3 of the VRA.

To see how Section 3 could save the Voting Rights Act, read below the jump.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 448 words in story)

Full 10-1 Redistricting Committee Begins in Full


by: Michael Hurta

Fri Jun 28, 2013 at 10:30 AM CDT

When the initial members of the 10-1 Committee were selected, they were charged with an important task before they could begin their real work: select the rest of the committee. Now, they have. The following Austinites will join them on the city's first redistricting commission:

•Catherine Cocco
•TJ Costello
•Stefan Haag
•Harriett Harrow
•Henry W. Johnson
•Ryan Rafols

They were selected on June 19, and their first meeting was this past Wednesday, to discuss the hiring of staff.

They expect to have maps drawn by this November. Read on to find out more about the committee.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 516 words in story)

Legal Basis for New Congressional PlanC245


by: Kirk Watson

Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:24 PM CDT

(Thanks to Senator Watson for this guest post. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

I. Backdrop for offering new congressional plan

The extreme limitations that the Governor placed on his call for this special session demonstrate the intention—shared by him and others piloting this redistricting process—to do nothing more than ratify the interim congressional plan that the federal court in San Antonio adopted for use in the 2012 elections. Indeed, the call technically prevents the legislature from considering anything but the maps that were used in the 2012 elections. Fortunately, the Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that this attempted limitation will not stand. Permanently enshrining this interim plan into state law gives it a much loftier status than the San Antonio court itself gave it.

The San Antonio court’s interim plan was adopted in February 2012. By then, primary elections in the state had been repeatedly postponed, and the preclearance case in Washington, D.C. district court was well underway.

The San Antonio court recognized the dilemma that the state’s actions created. The court emphasized over and over again that its legal analysis at that point was incomplete, and the interim plan rested on only “preliminary conclusions” that might be revised upon “full analysis.”[1] It explained that its analysis was “curtailed” and its decision “expedited.”[2] The court said that the interim map was “not a final ruling” because its conclusions “may be revised upon full analysis.”[3]

Every detail of the plan was qualified by the explanation that it was valid only “at this time.”[4] A key reason for this qualification was that, in February 2012, the San Antonio court did not have the benefit of the Section 5 Voting Rights Act decision by the D.C. federal court. That decision would not come until six months later, in late August 2012.

It is clear that had time and circumstance allowed the San Antonio court to take into account the D.C. court’s ruling, the interim plan would have looked very different in several important respects. As a result—and despite claims from the Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General—the 2012 interim plan does not “address every legal flaw" identified by the D.C. court.[5] 

The D.C. court—a three-member court with two members appointed by Republican Presidents—found that the Texas legislature enacted the 2011 congressional plan with racially “discriminatory intent.”[6] The court went into some detail on this but ended with an astounding conclusion: that there was “more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here.”[7]   

Learn more below the jump. 

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1815 words in story)

Chris Turner: Public input critical as Texas Legislature considers redistricting maps


by: Michael Hurta

Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 03:00 PM CDT

Continuing today's opinions on the current redistricting, here is State Representative Chris Turner on the need for public input.

In encouraging people to attend this last Thursday's hearing, Representative Chris Turner noted past maladies of Texas' gerrymandering, which emphasizes the need for less politics and more people.

For the third time in 10 years, Texas Republicans are attempting to ram through redistricting plans that discriminate against African-American and Latino voters, unfairly divide communities and artificially inflate GOP power.

In 2003, Texas Republicans followed then-U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's orders to redraw congressional districts to eliminate seven Democratic members of Congress, costing Texas more than 75 years of seniority and experience in Washington.

In 2011, Texas Republicans passed maps for Congress and the Texas Legislature that were found by a panel of federal judges to violate the Voting Rights Act and/or intentionally discriminate against minority voters.

Now, at the behest of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Gov. Rick Perry hastily called a special session of the Legislature to adopt the temporary maps used in the 2012 elections as the permanent maps for the rest of the decade. Those interim maps for the Texas House and Congress retain many of the features judged to be in violation of the law. They should not be made permanent.

In Tarrant and Dallas counties, there are more than 2 million African-Americans and Latinos - more than enough population to retain the two existing African-American opportunity congressional districts (Districts 30 and 33) while creating a new, Latino opportunity district anchored in Dallas County.

In the Corpus Christi area, the interim congressional map strands more than 200,000 Latinos in a gerrymandered district rigged to elect an Anglo Republican. And in Austin, the map needlessly splits Travis County five ways.

Similarly, the interim map for the state House is flawed and must be corrected. In Tarrant County, African-Americans and Latinos make up 42 percent of the population, yet they only have the ability to elect their candidate of choice in three out of 11 (or 27 percent) of the districts.

This pattern repeats itself around the state, with the map drawn to "pack" minority voters into as few districts as possible and then "crack" remaining minority communities among multiple Anglo-dominated districts.

In addition to the serious legal issues that must be addressed, there is also a basic fairness problem with the interim maps. Consider that, in 2012, President Obama carried Tarrant and Dallas counties combined by more than 13,000 votes. Yet, out of the 10 congressional districts that are wholly or partly within these two counties, only two are represented by Democrats.

The ratio is a little better in the interim state House map. Of 25 House districts in Tarrant and Dallas counties, only nine (36 percent) are represented by Democrats.

When a San Antonio federal court issued the interim maps so the 2012 elections could proceed, the judges were very clear that there were numerous unresolved legal issues, saying "This interim plan is not a final ruling on the merits of any claims."

It's important that state leaders hear from the public on this fundamental issue of fair representation.

The House Redistricting Committee will hold a public hearing Thursday starting at 2 p.m. at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit headquarters in Dallas, 1401 Pacific Ave.

I hope this committee will hear loud and clear from North Texas that we deserve fair, non-discriminatory districts for the Legislature and Congress.

Note: This op-ed was republished from the Star-Telegram.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Carlos Uresti: Political advantage can't come at the expense of Texans' voting rights


by: Michael Hurta

Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:31 AM CDT

Senator Carlos Uresti was pleased by some of the progress during the regular Texas legislative session this year -- there was a bipartisan atmosphere and things got done.

But that has corroded and now a partisan battle is at play. Uresti worries that this will hurt Texans everywhere, and he says so in today's Sunday Opinion.

Read it below.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 521 words in story)

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