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Drawing new maps, contention over redistricting in Texas

Posted at 8:57 PM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 22:09:31-04

The 2020 census showed that the population in Texas has grown by close to 4 million in the past decade, giving the state a chance to produce new district maps to accommodate that growth.

"Texas needs to draw new districts because it needs to accommodate two new house districts in addition to all of its existing house districts. It will also be drawing new state legislative districts for the statehouse and the state senate,” said Jeffrey Dixon, associate professor of political science at Texas A&M Central Texas.

When districts are redrawn it’s often the case that the party in charge at the time, in this case the Republican party, takes advantage of gerrymandering.

It is a process that could drastically tip the scales in their favor.

”Gerrymandering is simply drawing districts to create some predetermined outcome. Whether it’s for the protection of incumbents or it’s to maximize your party’s share of the seats,” said Dixon.

Republicans currently control the House and Senate in Texas and the Supreme Court says that political gerrymandering is okay but racial gerrymandering is not.

The Democratic Party of Bell County believes that the new districts are being drawn on the basis of race - not politics.

”We’re seeing, certainly in the city of Killeen, you're seeing racial gerrymandering cloaked in the guise of partisan gerrymandering, I think that is what’s happening there,” said William Rosenberg, state Democratic executive committee member, Senate District 24.

Whether that is true or not, the map for Bell County that includes State House Districts 54 and 55, could change drastically from one that includes Lampasas to one that is being described as a donut shape.

That is why some Democrats in Bell County are saying the redistricting process needs to change.

”It should be taken out of the hands of politicians of all parties and put under the authority of an independent, impartial redistricting commission,” said Rosenberg.

Whether the new maps please everyone or not, redistricting is something that has to happen.

”Every 10 years, there must be a federal census, according to the constitution and the Supreme Court has determined the constitution to require equal population districts,” said Dixon.

After speaking with the Republican Party of Bell County, they have decided not to comment until the new district maps are finalized.