Texas Remaps Ongoing Congressional Districts Called Redistribution – JTAC
The ins and outs of redistribution
Texas approved the new congressional district maps in favor of the Republican Party. This process is called redistribution.
Redistribution is the process by which congressional districts are redesigned. This is done every 10 years after the collection of population and demographic data, which is called the census.
The Texas state legislature is responsible for drawing the new districts, and they must remap within 60 days.
The governor can veto any cards drawn, but the legislature can override a veto with a two-thirds vote.
There is also a “Legislative Relief Commission” which takes over redistribution responsibilities if the legislature does not draw the cards on time. This council is made up of the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Attorney General, the Comptroller of Public Accounts and the Commissioner of the General Land Office.
While there are no state laws that define the requirements for drawing congressional districts, there is an article in the Texas Constitution (Art. III §§ 25, 26) that districts must retain all counties and be adjacent.
Texas has historically held public hearings before the district raffle began. They also allow card submissions by the public.
Since there are not a lot of requirements and freedom to redesign neighborhoods, there are quite a few loopholes.
There is a political tactic called “gerrymandering,” which involves strategically drawing districts for the benefit of a specific political party. Politicians will draw districts where the population is the majority in their party so that they have a better chance of being re-elected.
This term came from Massachusetts in 1812 when Governor Eldbrige Gerry approved plans for remapping with districts that favored his party, the Republicans.
According to a political cartoon published by a newspaper called the Boston Gazette, a neighborhood looked like “a new kind of monster.”
More and more newspapers started printing the cartoon where they combined the two words “Gerry” and “salamander”, where the word gerrymandering comes from.
Whereas that was over 200 years ago, gerrymandering is still alive and well today. We even see it in the new neighborhoods that have just been remapped this year.
During the 2011 redistribution, there were altercations between Democrats and Republicans, both political and legal.
Democrats blamed Republicans for the lack of minority representation in the districts they mapped.
After federal court cases and court rulings, the governor of Texas approved new districts that were enacted in 2013. These were later ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court for intentional discrimination.
The decision was almost completely overturned in 2018, leaving only one district in need of change.
This is an extreme example of what gerrymandering can lead to, a single instance where it gets out of hand.
You can find more information on redistribution in Texas at https://redistricting.capitol.texas.gov/.
A comparative map of the old and new districts of Texas is available at https://apps.texatribune.org/features/2021/texas-redistricting-map/. This website allows you to search for any city in Texas and see what neighborhood it is in, what it looks like, and what data pertains to it.