BELL COUNTY — A proposed redistricting map was released this weekend and some believe the map will give more representation to Bell County but some believe that it will exclude people of color.
State lawmakers are back in Austin for yet another special session but this time they will be focusing on redistricting.
Many are optimistic since the 2020 Census showed growth all across Central Texas.
“For the past 10 years, the state of Texas has been growing by leaps and bounds. We also know that approximately 90 to 95% of that growth has been in communities of color,” said Bell County Democratic Party Chair Bill Rosenberg.
“It’s really important that these lines be drawn, and they be drawn fairly, and they are drawn so that all people are represented,” said Bell County Republican Party Chair Nancy Boston.
This happens every 10 years, this time around local political leaders are looking to get more representation. Since Republicans have a majority in the house and senate, Democratic leaders believe they could use this process as an opportunity to enhance their power by gerrymandering.
“If you are the party that strong the line, do you want to draw districts that allow your party to win just enough across a bunch of districts to expand or enhance your political power. It’ll give you more seats in a statewide vote,” said Baylor University Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Patrick Flavin.
Which Democrats believe will impact communities of color.
“People of color have traditionally tended to vote more Democratic than Republican. Republicans are aware of this and they will use the redraw in those lines to dilute the power of those voting groups,” said Rosenberg.
The Supreme Court ruled political gerrymandering is okay but gerrymandering based on race is not. Local republican leaders say this is not the case and they want to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to vote.
“I do think that these lines are drawn fairly and to the best of their ability. Once all the drawing is done, we need to work together,” said Bell County Republican Party Chair Nancy Boston.
This is the first time in decades federal law allows Texas to draw and use political maps without getting federal approval to ensure they are not disenfranchising voting rights for people of color.