AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR / KCIT) – While restructuring of Texas district maps was inevitable after the 2020 census ended, a growing list of lawsuits against how the state government has consolidated land and land voters could impact the 2022 election in ways that voters might not expect. Here’s a look at the current state of the Texas Congressional and Senate Districts and the impact the High Plains could have in the near future.
The 2020 Census and the Texas Legislature
Florida, Texas, and the Carolinas were among the states that, according to 2020 census data, benefited the most from population growth. Amarillo has seen its population increase by about 1.6% and Texas as a whole has seen a 16% increase from the 2010 census. The South, according to the data, and the West have overtaken the North. East and Midwest having the majority of the country’s population.
As a result of the census results, not only did Texas win two new seats in the United States House of Representatives, but the statewide distribution of the population led to the district lines being reset to conform to federal law.
Mark McKenzie, professor of political science at Texas Tech University explained to NPR in September that although provisions to protect voters of color from discrimination were removed in 2013, state governments are required to have equal populations in every district. The specific demographic, economic and geographic interests of these districts do not need to coordinate.
Assistant Professor Christopher Macaulay, Ph.D., of West Texas A&M University, said each US Congressional district in Texas was expected to have around 766,000 people, which led to the expansion of a territory such as District 13, containing Amarillo, which was already the second largest geographic constituency in the state.
In September 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called a special third legislative session for the state legislature to focus on redistribution. Using released data from the 2020 census, which arrived months later than the census bureau’s initial plan to provide data by the end of March, Texas State House and the Senate have been back and forth to ‘Abbott signing the newly created cards on October 16. 25.
Local officials, the size and funding of schools, early childhood programs, places where grocery stores are built and roads repaired are just a few aspects of the daily impacts that enumeration and redistribution is expected to have on communities across Canada. Texas.
The Texas Legislature and a List of Prosecutions
Millions of Texas residents have been rated by census experts as some of the hardest to count – immigrants, poor Texans, non-English speakers being a few. However, despite this difficulty, census data showed that 95% of population growth in Texas since 2010 has been due to people of color, and half of the total earnings have come from Hispanics. Despite this, the new Texas House map increases the number of districts in which Hispanics make up the majority of eligible voters from 33 to 30, and the Congressional map reduced the number of Hispanic-majority districts from eight to seven.
Often with this disparity cited as one of the causes, as well as the constitutionality of the entire redistribution process, the census and redistribution efforts in Texas have been peppered with lawsuits against the state legislature by the United States. communities and colleagues.
- September saw two Texas state senators file lawsuits claiming district maps could not be legally redrawn in a special session, which ended the process after months of delays in census data.
- In October, two federal lawsuits have been filed against the constitutionality of the redistribution efforts, and Latino civil rights group Voto Latino alongside 13 Texas voters sued to ask a US District Court in Texas to overturn the new cards .
- In November, three separate lawsuits were filed by Texas lawmakers who also sought to overturn the cards, and several civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against Governor Abbott and Texas Secretary of State John Scott in arguing that the new cards were racially discriminatory.
While the exact dates when these cases will be heard in court have been unclear and their verdicts have yet to be settled, these lawsuits could further delay or even disrupt the 2022 Texas election. After delays in census data have already led to the deadline for submitting nominations for the December 13 elections, primary elections have been set for early May and general elections for November. However, depending on court actions, these dates could see further changes.
For several decades, including most recently in 2017, lawmakers have been sued on similar grounds, and higher courts have found that Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Hispanic and black voters when creating maps.
Daily reflections of the communities
It was not just some lawmakers and civil rights organizations who spoke out in objection or confusion regarding the newly mapped districts. Rural and urban voters have either protested the maps or pleaded with lawmakers to consider them during their development.
Angela Arthur de Ralls, outside Lubbock, called on lawmakers at a Texas House redistribution committee hearing to consider keeping communities with similar interests together. She was concerned that the amalgamation of farming communities with more urban centers of large cities would impact the quality of representation that citizens like herself and her neighbors would get at the federal and state levels of government.
“It may seem that our county doesn’t care what this problem is or where or what we are matched with. It doesn’t, ”Arthur said,“ I don’t want our county to be neglected and underserved because of our size and population. “
However, despite this kind of advocacy from rural and urban citizens, the new maps of Texas have resulted in sometimes oddly shaped neighborhoods that can cluster populations at times of each other while separating neighbors from a few. houses further away.
Macaulay further noted that rural districts like 13 and 19 may see their representation even more diluted than in the past. Overall, the weakening of voter demographics and day-to-day priorities in urban centers and vast swathes of rural communities across the state seemed to be a concern many Texans share as common ground.
While changes may occur ahead of the next election days, current candidates can be tracked here alongside other covers from your local election headquarters.
This story is developing. Check with MyHighPlains.com for updates.