Judges Take Close Look at Redistricting
By Ryan Loyd, Texas Public Radio
A panel of three federal judges in San Antonio is taking up maps drawn by the Texas Legislature for new Texas House and Congressional districts. The plans have drawn criticism for possibly being unfair to minority voters.
With deadlines looming, though, judges wonder if there’s enough time to adopt an interim plan for the primaries in March.
Bexar County elections administrator Jacquelyn Callanen has to print 900,000 voter cards in time for the primaries.
“So we have to do what we have to do to be ready on that moment,” she said.
At the heart of the argument is the tremendous growth of the state’s Hispanic population in the last U.S. Census. Chris Dunn, general council for the Texas Democratic Party says the want to see everyone get an even break.
“It’s an amazing world we live in where we have this federal Voting Rights Act and protection for all parties involved in voting,” Dunn said. “It wasn’t that way for most of the nation’s history. Some of us got to vote, and others didn’t get to vote at all.”
State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, fought for maps he thought were fair, but didn’t prevail.
“The maps that were passed by the Legislature were purely controlled by Republicans,” he said. “The tragedy is now taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill for a very expensive litigation.”
That’s why staff from U.S. Rep. Francisco Canseco, R-San Antonio, came to court armed with ideas.
Attorney Chris Gober brought maps his office is sure will work; it’s a joint plan by Canseco and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo.
“It is the only plan that has documented bipartisan support,” Gober said.
A ruling on an interim map and an election schedule should be handed down in two to three weeks.