DOJ Takes Issue with Maps

The GOP-drawn map would split Austin into FIVE districts, with none of them having a population center routed in Austin. Under their map, one district would extend to Waco, one to almost Fort Worth, one east to Houston, one south into northern San Antonio, and the final district would go all the way to the southern boundary of Bexar County. This is unacceptable.

Last Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice refused to certify the Republican-drawn redistricting maps, despite Attorney General Greg Abbott’s argument that the maps comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Congressman Pete Sessions, Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, expressed disagreement with the ruling but stated his willingness to work with the DOJ to ensure that the maps comply with the Act.

Today, the DOJ released some specific problems it found with the GOP maps for the Texas House and Congress. On the House map, it identified five districts that currently allow minority voters to elect the candidate of their choice, while under the proposed map they fail to maintain this minority opportunity. On the Congressional map, the DOJ explained that, so far, it had a lack of information to help it determine whether the map was enacted with a discriminatory purpose, and the department seeks more information to make a determination.

The brief also states that compared with the current map, the proposed map will have a “retrogressive effect,” in that it will diminish the ability of minorities to elect their candidate of choice, especially in South and West Texas.