AUSTIN, Texas, U.S. (AP) – Texas Republicans approved a constituency change for the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday that favors current MPs and reduces political representation of booming minority communities. , despite Latinos driving much of the growth in the nation’s largest Republican state.
The maps were authorized Monday night after protests by Democrats, who called the process accelerated and shortened to a 30-day session, leaving little room for public intervention.
They also denounced the reduction of minority opportunity districts: Texas will now have seven electoral districts for the lower house in which Latino residents are the majority, instead of the previous eight, despite changes in the state’s demographics.
“What we are doing by passing this map is a poor service to the people of Texas,” Democratic State Representative Rafael Anchia told the House just before the last vote.
Governor Greg Abbott was expected to endorse the changes.
Civil rights groups like the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed lawsuits against the reform before Republican lawmakers even finished passing it. The lawsuit alleges that the Republicans who designed the constituencies diluted the political force of minority voters by not drawing any new districts in which Latinos were the majority, even though Latinos make up half of the state’s 4 million new residents. of the last decade.
Abbott’s office did not respond to a message requesting comment.
Republicans have said they followed the law in making the divisions, which protect their diminishing control over Texas by bringing more GOP-like voters to suburban districts where Democrats have made strides in recent years.
Texas election maps have routinely ended up in court for decades. A federal court indicated in 2017 that a map designed by Republicans had been drawn to deliberately discriminate against minority voters. But two years later, the same court said there was insufficient reason to take the extraordinary step of putting Texas back under federal supervision before changing electoral laws or maps.
Maps redistributing the constituencies of Texas’s nearly 30 million residents – and who is chosen to represent them – round off a year of tension over voting rights in the state. Democratic lawmakers twice abandoned voting on an electoral law that tightened the state’s already strict voting rules, describing it as a blatant attempt to drive minorities and other Democratic-leaning voters away from the electoral process.
The plan does not create any additional districts in which black or Hispanic voters make up more than 50% of the voting population, even though people of color accounted for more than 9 out of 10 new residents to Texas over the past decade.
Republican State Senator Joan Huffman, who signed the maps and leads the Senate Constituencies Committee, told her fellow legislators that they had been “drawn without looking at race.” His legal team had made sure the plan was compliant with the Voting Rights Act, he said.
Associated Press journalist Paul J. Weber contributed to this report. Coronado is part of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national nonprofit program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report under-covered issues.
FILE – In this June 1, 2021 photo, the State Capitol in Austin, Texas. Losfile photo shows the State Capitol in Austin, Texas. Texas Republicans approved a constituency change for the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday that favors current MPs and reduces political representation of booming minority communities, despite Latinos driving much of the growth. in the largest Republican state in the country. (AP Photo / Eric Gay, File)