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Username: Michael Li
PersonId: 7556
Created: Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 00:31 PM CDT
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Texas Redistricting: The Week Ahead

by: Michael Li

Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 04:44 PM CDT

This week could be a big one with committee and floor votes possible on redistricting bills. Here's what the schedule looks like so far:

Monday, June 10.  

The Supreme Court releases opinions at 9 a.m. central time, and, at this point in the term, it is possible that could include a decision in Shelby Co. (although most people are guessing that a Shelby decision is still probably a couple of weeks away).

At 2 p.m. on Monday, the House redistricting committee meets in San Antonio to take public testimony.

Although the Senate redistricting committee had talked about field hearings in Harlingen on Monday, that now looks to be off. (Ditto the Senate committee hearings mooted at one time for Dallas or Fort Worth).

Read more below the jump.

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Backgrounder: Texas' Population Growth Since the Last Round of Redistricting

by: Michael Li

Mon Jun 03, 2013 at 01:57 PM CDT

imageThe 2010 Census showed that there were 25,145,561 Texans as of April 1 of that year.

By July 2011, the Census Bureau estimates that the state's population  had increased by 529,120, giving Texas the fastest rate of growth in the nation.

By July 2012, that figure had grown by another 427,400. And at 3.63%, the state's two-year rate of population growth outpaced that of every jurisdiction other than the District of Columbia (5.09%) and North Dakota (4.09%).

As was the case over the previous decade, Hispanic population gain continues to be the major driver of Texas' growth.

Read more about what this means for redistricting below the jump.  

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Legislature Looks Like It's Coming Back Tuesday For Special on Redistricting

by: Michael Li

Fri May 24, 2013 at 03:13 PM CDT

To paraphrase Don Corleone: "Just when you think you're out, they pull you back in . . ."

imageWayne Slater from the Dallas Morning News has tweeted that two well-placed sources say that a special session on Texas redistricting will start Tuesday, immediately after sine die.

In the mean time, the Congressional Black Caucus has sent a letter to Gov. Perry expressing concerns about a special session over redistricting and telling Perry that any acceptable map needed to contain at least four African-American ability-to-elect districts.

Currently there are only three such districts (CD-9 and CD-18 in Harris County and CD-30 in Dallas County) where the African-American citizen voting age population is above or just barely shy of 50%.

In addition, CD-33 on the court's interim map has a Hispanic citizen voting age plurality (40%) but was won in 2012 by Congressman Marc Veasey in the Democratic primary largely on the strength of African-American turnout.

The letter also expressed support for Hispanic efforts "to be fully empowered within the Texas congressional plan."

Learn more below the jump.

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Part 2: Texas' Missing Young Voters

by: Michael Li

Tue May 14, 2013 at 05:28 PM CDT

An earlier post took a look at the Census Bureau's estimates of voter turnout in Texas by age - and, well, the stats weren't pretty for 18-24 voters compared with their peers in other states.

But can the voter file tell us more?

The good news is that the age of voters - unlike ethnicity - is something that voter registrars in Texas track, so the data is considerably more certain and available. (To be sure, there are a few thousand voters without recorded birthdates and some inevitable coding errors - but not enough to be statistically significant in a universe of 13.6 million registered voters.)

Below the jump, let's take a look at the actual turnout data, starting with the voter pool.

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Texas' Missing Younger Voters

by: Michael Li

Sun May 12, 2013 at 01:17 PM CDT

imageA lot of the focus on the Census Bureau's estimate of 2012 voter turnout has focused on ethnicity. But there's also a story to be told about turnout by age - and for Texas, it's not a pretty one.

As shown, in the chart below, Texas turnout in 2012 lags every age the US turnout rate in every age group except the eligible voters over 65+, where Texas slightly outperforms the nation as a whole.

The result isn't especially surprising given that Texas ranked 47th in the nation in voter turnout in 2012 (after coming in 50th in 2010). But what does stand out is the sharp fall off in Texas among voters 18-24 when benchmarked against the national turnout rate.

Read more below the jump.

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A Look at Texas Voter Turnout by Ethnicity

by: Michael Li

Wed May 08, 2013 at 07:11 PM CDT

The Census Bureau is out with its eagerly awaited estimate of 2012 voter turnout by ethnicity.

For 2012, the Bureau estimates that nationwide 64.1% of citizen voting age Anglos, 66.2% of African-Americans, 48% of Hispanics, and 47.3% of Asians voted in 2012.

While the impact of the nation's growing Hispanic population on the 2012 election has gotten a lot of media play (deservedly), the turnout 'wonder story' of 2012 looks to involve African-Americans, not Hispanics.

Most groups in 2012, including Hispanics, saw falls in turnout.  But African-American turnout reached a historic high, with African-Americans outvoting Anglos for the first time - ever.  By contrast, while more Hispanics than ever voted, that looks to be a product of increasing numbers, not of increasing turnout rates.

Learn more below the jump.

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What Fixing the Congressional Map Might Look Like for Travis County and Central Texas

by: Michael Li

Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:17 PM CDT

(Thanks to redistricting expert Michael Li for this update! - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

It remains to be seen how the Texas redistricting saga will play out. But if the court were to restore a Travis County-centered district, what might it look like?

And what would become of the current Hispanic opportunity district (CD-35) - drawn by the Texas Legislature and incorporated into the court's second interim map - once the populous Hispanic parts of Travis County are removed?

The joint map advisory filed by 6 of 8 plaintiff groups with the court in San Antonio has suggested at least a couple of options.

Learn more below the jump.

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Texas Redistricting: It's Back! (sort of)

by: Michael Li

Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 05:43 PM CDT

(Don't forget about redistricting! Michael Li catches us up on the latest developments.   - promoted by Karl-Thomas Musselman)

After largely lying dormant for most of this session, Texas redistricting made a reappearance today when the senate's state affairs committee's held at hearing on SB 1524 a bill by State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) that would  adopt the three court-drawn interim maps as permanent.

The hearing ended up being a relatively sedate affair - although State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) drew a firm line in the sand when he told the committee that the senate's Democratic caucus was united in opposing moving forward with the bill.

If that holds, the Democratic caucus would have the votes needed under the senate's 2/3 rule to block consideration of the bill on the floor - absent procedural maneuvering by the Republican majority.

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An Update on Texas Redistricting and the Process Ahead

by: Michael Li

Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 03:31 PM CDT

(Thanks to redistricting expert Michael Li for this update in the never-ending process that is redistricting.   - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

Last Friday was the deadline the San Antonio court gave parties in the Texas redistricting litigation to file advisories telling the court what they think it should do with the state's legislative and congressional maps.

The court previously told the parties that it would not "issue any opinion" until after the Supreme Court decides questions in Shelby Co. v. Holder surrounding the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

However, the court asked the parties for advice on alternative scenarios if section 5 is upheld and if it - or the coverage formula - are struck down, including time estimates.

So, what did they say? Find out below the jump.

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Backgrounder: Texas and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act

by: Michael Li

Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 06:31 PM CST

(Thanks to Michael Li for this servicey explainer about Section 5 in advance of this week's hearing.   - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

With the Supreme Court set to take up the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act on Wednesday in one of the most momentous cases this term, here's a look at the history of section 5 in Texas:

  • Texas is one of 8 states currently covered in its entirety by the preclearance provisions in section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  In addition, another 8 states are partially covered. The other states covered in whole are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Virginia also is covered as a state, although a number of its counties and political subdivisions no longer are.

  • Texas was not covered under section 5 until 1975 amendments to the Voting Rights Act, which added provisions to address discrimination against language minority groups. Like Arizona, Texas became covered because Spanish speakers at the time of the November 1972 general election constituted more than 5% of voting age citizens but the state still provided election information only in English.

  • Since becoming a covered jurisdiction, Texas and its political subdivisions have been the subject of 206 preclearance objections from the Justice Department - more than any other covered jurisdiction. Additionally, although Texas elected not to submit its 2011 legislative and congressional redistricting maps to DOJ for preclearance, a three-judge panel denied preclearance to all three of Texas' plans in 2012.

  • Of the objections since Texas became a covered jurisdiction, 73 occurred between 1975-1979, 53 were between 1980-1989, 65 were between 1990-1999, and 15 have been since 2000.  In all, 112 of the objections were lodged by under Republican administrations and 94 during Democratic administrations.

  • Prior to the Obama administration, the Justice Department objected to all three of the state's redistricting plans in the 1981 cycle, the state house and state senate redistricting plans in the 1991 cycle, and the state house plan in the 2001 cycle.  In 1991, DOJ also objected to the City of Dallas' proposed 10-4-1 city council plan.

  • In 2011-2012, in addition to opposing Texas' redistricting plans and Texas' voter ID law (SB 14), the Justice Department objected to redistricting plans for county commissions in Galveston and Nueces counties and to a change in the way the trustees for the Beaumont Independent School District would be elected.

  • If section 5 is upheld, Texas would remain covered by preclearance requirements until 2031, unless at some future juncture it qualifies for bailout under provisions of the Voting Rights Act.  Under current law, to bailout as a state, Texas and all of its political subdivisions would need to have a 'clean record' under both section 5 and section 2 of the Voting Rights Act for a period at least ten years, in addition to meeting other statutory requirements.

  • Political subdivisions, such as counties, also can bailout on their own if they independently meet the bailout tests, though to date none have done so in Texas.  Nationwide, roughly 125 jurisdictions have bailed out since 2009.

  • As a covered jurisdiction, Texas is required to submit all voting related changes either to the Justice Department or to a court in Washington D.C. for approval (preclearance) before they can be put into effect.  This requirement includes changes in the manner of voting, candidacy requirements, abolition of an office, annexations, redistricting plans as well as things like the location of precinct polling places and changes in political parties' delegate selection rules.

This post was updated to add a missing bullet point that disappeared into the ether during reformatting. -- KH

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