| Austin Redistricting Postcard Party
OCTOBER 21, 2019 @ 6:00 PM –
For years, politicians have counted on Texans tuning out during this convoluted process — choosing to conduct their business behind closed doors and out of the public eye. The result? Partisan and racially gerrymandered districts where manipulated boundaries limit the power of voters. The time is now to keep the pressure on lawmakers to ensure a fair and transparent redistricting process.
A few weeks ago, lawmakers held a redistricting town hall in Austin to listen to residents’ thoughts on the redistricting process, but we want to make sure this isn’t the last they hear from you! If you weren’t able to make your testimony in person, you’ll have the chance to send the redistricting committee members a message at our postcard party on Monday, October 21.
By Terri Burke, Executive Director, ACLU
SEPTEMBER 16, 2019 – 3:00PM
I’ve got a secret for you, one that some Lone Star State politicians might not want you to know. An important statewide process is getting started ahead of the 2021 legislative session, a process that happens once every 10 years.
It’s called redistricting, or the redrawing of the districts that make up the legislative and congressional maps in Texas, and it matters more than you may know.
Redistricting is simple enough to grasp when you compare it to other things we replace every few years, like, say, an old car. When it just isn’t working like it used to or doesn’t meet your needs anymore, it’s time to think about getting a new model.
Similarly, redistricting should lead to new and improved electoral maps that reflect the growth and demographic changes that Texas communities undergo with time. Every 10 years, after the U.S. census determines how our communities have expanded and contracted, the Texas Legislature gets the task of redrawing fair maps that are inclusive of everyone.
Except it doesn’t always quite work that way, because, unfortunately, redistricting isn’t as easy as going to the dealership and riding out with a shiny, new F-150 two hours later.
The process is often fraught with complications, like lack of transparency and self-interest. Unlike in some other states, where an independent redistricting commission redraws the electoral maps, Texas legislators redraw and approve their own districts. If that seems backward, it should — after all, shouldn’t voters be the ones who select their elected officials, and not the other way around?
To make matters more complicated for the 2021 process, there have been a number of court battles as a result of the state redistricting that happened in 2011. The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Texas won’t need future federal oversight, as it has had for decades, to ensure that partisan gerrymandering — the intentional drawing of districts to benefit one party over another — doesn’t occur. All this despite immediate concerns from federal court judges about Texas’ past actions in redrawing its maps illegally.
This means that in 2021, redistricting will be totally in the hands of state legislators with no one to look over their shoulders, with costly litigation seemingly the only fix if things go awry.