The U.S. Constitution requires a census every 10 years. The data are used to redraw congressional districts to represent shifts in population. The process has become deeply political, with both parties vying to use their statehouse advantage to draw maps that will help propel them to control the U.S. House.
Draft maps introduced Monday by state Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston who chairs the Senate’s redistricting special committee, account for the state’s 4 million new residents — half of them Latino.
Democrats and critics say the plan is an attempt to boost white voters’ political representation at the expense of the Hispanic, Black and Asian communities that are responsible for most of the state’s population growth.
The draft proposes 25 Republican or Republican-leaning districts and 13 Democratic or Democratic-leaning seats, according to the Cook Political Report. The current maps have 23 Republican or Republican-leaning seats, with 13 Democratic or Democratic-leaning seats, according to Cook.
Critics say it is an attempt by Republicans — who control the redistricting process — to blunt the political power of the voters of color, particularly Latinos, who are fueling the state’s growth.
Texas gained two seats after the 2020 Census.
Texas’ current maps — with 36 House seats — consist of 22 districts with majorities of white voters, eight districts with Hispanic majorities and one with a Black majority; five districts have no majority. The Senate’s proposed map — with 38 House seats — would consist of 23 districts with white majorities, seven with Hispanic majorities and none with a Black majority. Eight districts would have no racial majority.
“It’s almost breathtaking in terms of aggressiveness towards communities of color, who provided 95 percent of Texas population growth last decade, yet there are no new minority opportunities on the map,” said Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.
Li said the maps pair rural, reliably conservative voters with slices of metro areas that include large numbers of Latinos and Democrats, essentially insulating incumbent Republicans from the demographic changes that would make the state far more politically competitive if the map lines were drawn “naturally.” “This is a gerrymander not in the sense that it grabs five new seats, but it’s a gerrymander in the sense that it takes seats off the table that otherwise would be competitive over the course of the decade,” Li said.
Huffman did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Texans deserve fair maps.
95% of Texas’ population growth was driven by Black, Latino and Asian Americans. But the proposed congressional map drawn by Republican politicians DECREASES the # of minority-majority districts.
David Daley, a senior fellow at FairVote, a group that pushes for changes to the election system, who is the author of two books about redistricting, said the map appeared to have been designed to withstand the demographic changes that will occur over the next 10 years. “They have put aside some of the short-term partisan seat maximization in order to lock in control for a full 10 years in states where the demographics are trending against them,” he said.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) September 27, 2021 It’s racially discriminatory, extreme gerrymandering. pic.twitter.com/TGaGi84Iir