Texas redistricting maps face legal challenges over alleged discrimination against Latinx voters

El Paso, Texas – Texas' GOP-drawn redistricting maps are facing legal challenges as expected – before even being signed into law!

Texas House members confer as they consider HB1, the state's redistricting bill.
Texas House members confer as they consider HB1, the state's redistricting bill.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

A group of organizations and individuals filed a lawsuit in El Paso on Monday alleging that Texas' new maps stand in violation of the Voting Rights Act because they discriminate against Latinx voters, the Texas Tribune reported.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), representing the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), and the Texas Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, is hoping to repeat their success of the past redistricting cycle, when Texas was forced to redraw its maps following legal challenges.

The plaintiffs argue that the new maps disenfranchise Latinx Texans, who account for about half of Texas' total population growth over the last decade.

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Despite that, the number of districts where Hispanic voters have the majority was reduced from 33 to 30 in the House map, and the congressional map drops the number from eight to seven.

Striving for fairness by way of equal and adequate representation

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (l.), Gov. Greg Abbott (c.) and former-speaker Dennis Bonnen hold a press conference regarding border security on June 21, 2019.
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (l.), Gov. Greg Abbott (c.) and former-speaker Dennis Bonnen hold a press conference regarding border security on June 21, 2019.  © IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Meanwhile, the number of white-majority districts went up, despite white Texans accounting for only 5% of the state's population growth.

When asked by TAG24 News what the desired outcome for the lawsuit might be if Texas is forced to redraw its maps, Nina Perales, the counsel for LUPE plaintiffs, said it was to formulate redistricting plans that, "One, do not weaken existing Latino majority districts as these plans do, and two, create a net increase of the number of Latino opportunity districts in the state."

She continued, "Not weakening the existing districts and increasing the number of opportunity districts is the only fair way to reflect the demographic changes within Texas."

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Texan maps have been found in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act each redistricting cycle since the law took effect. The federal legislation, which has seen many of its enforceable protections gutted in recent years, is intended to protect minority voters' rights.

In a press conference regarding the lawsuit, LULAC president Domingo Garcia noted that the organization has filed a suit against the state every 10 years since 1970 over redistricting maps – but the political landscape has never looked quite like it does now.

"We've never seen The Republican Party, or anybody else, go to the extremes that we've seen this year. The Republican Party has weaponized political gerrymandering to disenfranchise and to suppress the vote of Latinos throughout the state of Texas," Garcia said.

The new electoral maps have been sent to Governor Greg Abbott's desk for signature as the Texas Legislature rounded up its third special session of the year. Abbott was named as lead defendant in Monday's lawsuit.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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