Legal Move To Stop Texas GOP Voter Suppression Revealed By Lawyer Marc Elias

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Voting rights lawyer Marc Elias has pledged the filing of a lawsuit against Texas Republicans in the event that a politically slanted new Congressional district map is enacted by authorities in the state. Putting the map in place could make it more difficult for marginalized communities to have a say in the political process, since the facets of political manipulation of legislative district lines include keeping these communities in the minority in as many districts as possible, no matter their portion of the overall population.

As Elias pointedly put it, referring to the newly proposed Congressional district map in Texas:

‘As soon as this is enacted, Texas will be sued.’

Journalist Stephen Wolf explained how “95% of Texas’ population growth was people of color, but instead of adding any new Latino districts, the GOP’s congressional gerrymander weakens 2 existing ones,” adding that “Almost every GOP district cracks communities of color &/or Dem-trending suburbs.” “Cracking” refers to breaking up communities across separate legislative districts, impeding their ability to get members of the legislature elected who represent their unified interests. The disputed district lines have already been approved by state legislators in Texas and were awaiting the approval of Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott (who is not a maverick — he’s very much in line with familiar far-right interests).

The newly proposed — and about to be enacted — Texas maps are stunning in their political cravenness. As explained this week by The Texas Tribune, “Republicans reduced the number of districts in which Hispanics make up the majority of eligible voters from eight to seven,” while the “number of districts with Black residents as the majority of eligible voters drops from one to zero.” All of these developments have been set in motion despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of population growth in Texas in recent years has been because of newly arriving non-white residents. Because of its population growth, Texas added two Congressional districts during this redistricting cycle — and both new districts, as passed by the legislature, feature majority-white populations.

Texas Republicans also recently enacted a sweeping elections reform bill containing suppressive new restrictions on voting, like bans on 24-hour polling places and drive-thru voting. The legislation also bans sending mail-in ballot applications to voters without prior requests from the recipients. Each of these scenarios unfolded in Harris County, which is heavily Democratic and includes Houston, during last year’s election cycle — and none of it has been legitimately connected to any kind of systematic fraud. Still, targeting electoral procedures that were prominently used in a Democratic area seems to make the underlying political purpose obvious.