News25 Investigates


Lawsuits over redistricting are no surprise in Texas...

but THIS one's different.
Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 23:28:46-05

The Texas Legislature has approved new political maps for offices from congress to dog catcher.

The law requires those districts to have "balance" in population and help every vote to count.

But minority groups once again have cried "foul" over the process and it's result.

It's become a ritual in the Republic of Texas, Every Ten years, census figures come out, and every ten years, Texas lawmakers come up with ever-stranger Rorschach drawings that represent the many political boundaries in the Lone Star State.

Some say they make no sense.

"You have a situation where the politicians are choosing the voters when what we should be seeing is the voters choosing the politician," said Walter Wilson PhD, Political Science Professor at UTSA.

And every year, since this process began in the 1970's... Texas faces a lawsuit from the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, which claims Latinos and others got shortchanged.

"In every cycle since then. Texas has been found liable for discrimination against Latino voters... in every cycle." said Nina Perales, MALDEF's VP of Litigation.

But this year, there's a new wrinkle

"Any day now it's right around the corner March or April there will be more Hispanic people living in Texas than white people." Claimed world-renowned demographer Dr. Dudley Poston, of Texas A&M University.

So as Hispanics become the largest Ethnic group in the Republic, they do it, with no more representation then they had before.

The lawsuit suggests the many back to back years of growth shown by Latinos may have earned them that extra seat Texas got in the most recent census.

"I personally don't think that's a valid concept. If there is no way in any congressional district you have populated out any particular group to put somebody up to run whether it be Hispanic black or Chinese or whatever. If the person is the right man or woman for the job, and can influence that the population within that district they're going to win," said Jon Ker, of the Texas Republican Executive Committee.

Interestingly enough, that's one item on which both sides agree.

"Somebody gets elected, who is Anglo, somebody is African American, somebody who is brown, somebody who's green with purple spots. It's about the choice of the community and creating the districts in which the community can exercise its choice" said Perales.

But how you get there.... that's the debate.

It's possible when mid-term elections take place, we'll do it under political maps drawn by a panel of three judge and not by our elected leaders.

Once again civic groups have sued the state of Texas over it's recent political redistricting and it comes at a critical time.

Experts say Carlos Espina represents the future of Texas.

He's just the kind of voter that could determine the direction of the lone star state.

Just one thing, neither of our current big political parties appeal to this College Station man.

"The Hispanic community the way both parties approach them, they only seem to care about one issue, with the democrats its immigration with republicans its abortion, but immigrants Latinos and Hispanics care about a lot of issues," he explained.

The rise in responsibility for Carlos and millions like him, comes at time of serious change.

Hispanics are about to become the biggest ethnic group, say experts, something that normally would put them in the driver's seat, But demographers say, it seems those in power don't want to give up the wheel.

"Any day now, like in March or April, Hispanics will become the than white people. I believe that may be what's behind all these attempts at voter suppression around the country and especially in Texas." said Dr. Dudley Poston of Texas A&M University, in an interview last year.

Some believe it's also why, leaders passed over the growing Hispanic population as it drew new political boundaries. that look , more like Rorschach drawings than political maps.

"The new maps not only didn't take my constituents into account, more colloquially you might call them a "hot mess" said Tarrant County Commissioner Devan Allan said to a panel of the Texas Senate late last year

Not only did Commissioner Allan notice, so did the Mexican American Legal Defense fund, which has. for the umpteenth time, sued the Republic of Texas over its new political maps

"Out goal is to make sure that everybody has a fair shot an equal ." said Nina Perales, MALDEF's Vice President of Litigation.

What makes this lawsuit more important than those of the past, is this new plurality of of Hispanic voters.

Did the fact that now Hispanics will be the majority group in Texas provide part of the reason why MALDEF filed this lawsuit ? So the new majority will be able to have whatever advantages that come with it?

"Well, there are two main problems with the redistricting plans that passed out of the Texas legislature in the fall of 2021. And and the first of those problems is that there are districts that Latinos have had a fair shot at electing their candidate of choice. And those districts have been weakened or manipulated to offer less of an opportunity for Latino voters. So their problem with these redistricting plans is that there are places where the Latino community has grown and where you can draw a new Latino majority district, but those districts are not there in the map. You can't find them," said Perales.

But those currently in charge insist this strange re-drawing of political maps was done "by the book".

"So they all followed the rules a little closer, all the rules closer because they knew this was gonna continue every day." Jon Ker, of the Texas Republican Executive Committee.

But business as usual, young Hispanic voters say, doesn't interest them much.

"I personally feel the Hispanic vote is up for grabs. They could go either way depending on how they're approached but neither party seems to have the formula to get to the Hispanics and understand the differences in the community," said Espina.

Listen up Texas, that's your future talking.

Thursday on 25 News, we'll show you neither central Texas nor the Brazos valley are strangers to what Commissioner Allen so colloquially called a "Hot Mess"

Plus a deeper look inside the MALDEF lawsuit, and why some say it'll never make it to court.