Texas has a sordid history of gerrymandering, and the state has been called out for it over the years by the Justice Department and federal courts because of discrimination against minority voters. Constitutional amendments are being considered in the Legislature — proposed by Democratic Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas — that would bring more equity to the redistricting process. The need is clear. Political realities work against these measures’ approval, but the Legislature should go there as a matter of fairness and democratic principle. Redistricting maps drawn in 2011 based on the 2010 census were no exception to the Texas gerrymandering rule. After legal challenges, these were improved a bit by a San Antonio federal court in 2013. The problem: Those maps were still based on the clearly discriminatory maps drawn two years previous. They do not adequately reflect the more diverse representation that should have occurred; minorities were nearly 90 percent of the increased population that gained Texas four new congressional seats in the last census.
So legal challenges persist, though the Supreme Court, in amending the Voting Rights Act, made the hurdles a bit higher for the challengers.
Anchia’s legislation makes two basic improvements to the process. First, one amendment forms a state redistricting commission to draw the lines. As in most states, the majority party of the Legislature controls the process. This essentially gives Republicans the means to pick their own voters and perpetuate GOP dominance. This process subverts representative democracy.
Full Article: Stop the Texas gerrymander – San Antonio Express-News.