AUSTIN (Nexstar) — With the second legislative session complete, the door is now open for Governor Greg Abbott to call Texas lawmakers back for another special session: this time to tackle redistricting.
The task of drawing new voting district lines for the state has historically been contentious and messy.
Tensions between Texas Democrats and Republicans were already high after the political chaos over the recently passed elections bill. But soon, lawmakers will have to come together to make crucial decisions about how to change current voting districts.
U.S. Census data from 2020 shows Texas’ population exploded — jumping 16% in 2010 to nearly 29 million.
Republicans like U.S. Rep. James White want to ensure rural constituents aren’t overlooked, but Democrats like U.S. Rep. Ron Reynolds fear Republicans will ignore the best interest of minorities. According to U.S. Census data, Texans of color accounted for 95% of the state’s population growth.
“They’re going to gerrymander the districts to fit their Republican majorities,” said Reynolds. “And so, they’re going to draw them in such a way that it dilutes communities of interest to break them up.”
Without the numbers to control outcomes, Reynolds says his party has to get creative.
“I anticipate they’re going to be a mass disagreement, and then it’s going to end up in the courts where they will ultimately make their decisions,” said Reynolds. “The best thing that we can do is to try to build a record, through the hearings and through the floor debate so that we can preserve that for the litigation.”
A court battle is likely — that’s where 2010 and 2000 redistricting fights landed.
Last time, federal court rulings found lawmakers discriminated against Hispanic and Black voters in particular.