Texas Governor Approves GOP Redesigned State Voting Cards
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed redesigned voting cards that open a safer path for the GOP’s shrinking majority, leaving opponents hoping courts will block new gerrymandered districts before that they cannot be used in the 2022 elections.
Abbott signed the cards on Monday, according to a spokeswoman for the governor. The governor’s office made no announcements.
Civil rights groups have already filed federal lawsuits who accuse GOP cartographers of depriving Hispanic and black residents of their civil rights that are the source of the state’s rapid growth. Texas has added 4 million new residents since 2010, but according to new maps from the House of the United States, Republicans have not added any new neighborhoods where Latinos hold a majority.
The new cards end a very busy year on voting rights in Texas, where Democrats left the state this summer to begin a 38-day suspension to protest against a radical overhaul of the elections.
“The only time communities of color can get justice is at the courthouse,” Democratic state representative Rafael Anchia said ahead of the final card vote at Texas House last week.
The newly signed maps mark the end of the once-decade-long state redistribution process in which lawmakers decide how nearly 30 million Texas residents are divided into political districts and who is elected to represent them. Texas was the only state to win two more seats in Congress in the 2020 census, increasing the state’s already inordinate political clout.
The state’s Mexican-American legislative caucus, mostly Democrats, is looking for documents on who was involved in drawing the maps. The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, along with other minority rights and voting groups, also filed a separate lawsuit challenging the cards in federal court.
According to census figures, more than 9 of 10 new Texans over the past decade were people of color.
Texas Republicans defended the cards, saying race was not taken into account except to preserve equal representation. Republican State Senator Joan Huffman, who drew the maps and heads the Senate Redistribution Committee, told fellow lawmakers they were “blind to race.” She also said they had been examined by a legal team for violations of the voting rights law.
Texas has had to defend redesigned district lines in court since the Voting Rights Act took effect, but this is the first time since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling said that Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination no longer needed to have the Department of Justice reviewed. cards before they are approved.
Acacia Coronado is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a national, non-profit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.