Texas could soon be facing the possibility of having its primaries split into two elections, a federal judge said Monday. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia wrote in a filing that he was giving the move “serious consideration” if the groups involved in the fight over the state’s interim redistricting plans can’t agree on a set of maps by Feb. 6. Garcia, who leads the panel of judges that was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court last week to redraw interim district maps for the 2012 election, also moved a key hearing up by three days, to Friday, when the court will hear arguments on how best to move forward.
“Logistically, it’s incredibly difficult to see how all of this happens with an April 3 primary,” said Richard Hasen, a law professor and redistricting expert at the University of California at Irvine. “This seems like a recognition that it’s just going to be too hard to do.” He said redrawn interim maps must be finished by early February for counties to have enough time to prepare for the April 3 primary.
Garcia’s filing comes after minority groups and Democratic politicians asked the panel to reject Attorney General Greg Abbott’s request that the court finalize its redrawn maps by Jan 30. They argued that the state was attempting to use the compressed timetable to ram through maps that don’t pass muster with the Voting Rights Act.