Texas’ new congressional maps will disenfranchise Latinx voters, organizers say

“We might have anticipated to see larger illustration for the Latino neighborhood within the maps drawn,” mentioned Thomas Saenz, Mexican American Authorized Protection and Academic Fund (MALDEF) president and normal counsel. “This has change into an virtually ubiquitous sample with the Texas legislature, and we count on to should go to courtroom as we’ve got decade after decade, as a result of the Texas legislature has a protracted standing sample of not adequately responding to the expansion of the Latino inhabitants.”

That discrepancy is especially obvious in Tarrant County within the Dallas-Fort Value space. The Latinx inhabitants in Tarrant County has grown 28% since 2010. And whereas Tarrant County swung blue within the 2020 presidential election, this new congressional map redrew the district to incorporate extra conservative voters from close by counties.

The Sisyphean job of difficult discriminatory redistricting plans that organizations like MALDEF have been tasked with again and again was made extra difficult in 2013 when the Supreme Court docket eradicated sure protections in opposition to gerrymandering in redistricting.

The ruling in Shelby County v. Holder cleared the way in which for numerous restrictive voting legal guidelines and insurance policies, together with the elimination of a prereview course of for the electoral mapmaking course of in states with a historical past of voter discrimination, like Texas. Below the previous provisions, states must submit proposed modifications to election legal guidelines or political maps to the federal authorities for approval.

This yr marks Texas’ first redistricting course of with out these protections for the reason that Voting Rights Act was handed in 1965. With out these protections, Saenz says the recourse for folk working to protect voting rights, like MALDEF, is to sue the state.

MALDEF has sued the state of Texas to guard voting rights earlier than, most just lately in 2011, which was the final time Texas redrew congressional districts. The swimsuit alleged the redistricting course of didn’t replicate Latinx inhabitants progress within the state and sought a brand new congressional map. MALDEF won the suit, and the state was compelled to extend the variety of Latinx-majority districts in each the Texas State Home and in Congress.

“Finally, the Texas legislature’s failure to observe the regulation in 2011 will price Texas taxpayers tens of millions and tens of millions of {dollars}, and that’s what’s being decided now,” Saenz mentioned, explaining that MALDEF is at present within the strategy of figuring out what the state of Texas pays from the 2011 lawsuit. “That’s what they’re doing at this time. With 2021 they run the danger, once more, of a lawsuit that in the end prices Texas taxpayers tens of millions and tens of millions of {dollars}.

Whereas the typical voter is probably not tuned into the once-a-decade strategy of redistricting, Saenz says it’s a crucial step in preserving democracy and fascinating Latinx voters.

“For folks to be engaged, they should consider they’ve an opportunity their candidate will win,” Saenz mentioned, noting that redistricting not solely impacts one election, however has long-term results on voter participation. “That’s the issue once you fail to create Latino majority districts in Congress, for instance, then folks have the constant expertise that their most popular candidate at all times loses. In any neighborhood, that’s a recipe for folks deciding it’s not value their time to change into concerned, to register to vote, to take part one other manner.”

Montse Reyes is a author and editor based mostly in Oakland and raised in California’s Central Valley. She enjoys writing concerning the intersection of race, gender and sophistication, typically as they relate to tradition at massive.

Prism is a BIPOC-led non-profit information outlet that facilities the folks, locations, and points at present underreported by nationwide media. We’re dedicated to producing the form of journalism that treats Black, Indigenous, and folks of shade, ladies, the LGBTQ+ neighborhood, and different invisibilized teams because the specialists on our personal lived experiences, our resilience, and our fights for justice. Sign up for our email list to get our tales in your inbox, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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