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Redistricting and Gerrymandering

Redistricting

Under the US Constitution, the US Census Bureau must conduct a new census of the total population every ten years. States and the appropriate bodies then redraw (“redistrict”) congressional, state and local voting districts on the basis of population changes. States losing or gaining populations will lose or gain congressional seats and Electoral College delegates.

Gerrymandering is an extreme form of redistricting. It is the practice of dividing or arranging a territorial unit into election districts in a way that gives one political party an unfair advantage in elections. In Texas, our state legislators draw voting district lines with limited public input.

Both the Texas House and Senate have scheduled public hearings. After much lobbying by Fair Maps (See "Transparency" below.) a coalition of fair voting advocacy organizations, anyone can offer written and/or in-person testimony about the redistricting process by signing up on the House and Senate Redistricting Committee websites.  You can tell the redistricting committee what they think the district boundaries should be. They can also submit maps to illustrate the boundaries.  Please note that the Texas Legislature has called redistricting hearings with very, very short notice.

Racial Gerrymandering is unlawful per the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Partisan Gerrymandering is lawful.

The Process


The Census Report was to be sent to the President of the US by 12/31/20, and then to the states by April 30, 2021. Historically, Texas Legislators have received the Census sometime in February. However, due to the delays caused by COVID-19, the delivery of the Census Report to Texas will be delayed until September, according to the US Census Bureau.

Based on the US Census Bureau’s estimates of a shift in population, Texas could receive three or more additional seats in the US House as a result of the 2020 census, increasing Texas’s representation in the US House from 36 to 39 seats.

Redistricting bills must be filed by the Texas legislators by March 12, 2021. Those bills which include the redistricting maps are likely to be completed long after that date due to the delay in receiving the Census data. The Governor must sign or veto the voting district plan that is passed by the legislators by June 20, 2021.

According to attorneys for the Senate Special Committee on Redistricting, because the Census will not be received by the Committee until after the Regular Session, there will be no opportunity for the Legislators to draw the maps. Therefore, both the Congressional and the Texas maps, based on the 2020 Census, will be drawn by the Legislators during a Special Session, and not by the Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB).

If the 2020 the Census were to be received during the Regular Session and the maps be drawn but not approved by the Governor during that Session, the Texas Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB) would be required to assemble within 90 days of the 87th legislative Regular Session adjournment to draw the Texas maps. The LRB would then have 60 days afterward to submit a plan for the governor’s approval. The LRB, appointed by the governor, is comprised of: Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Commissioner of the General Land Office, the Comptroller of Public Accounts, and the House Majority leader. Regarding the drawing of the Congressional maps, if the Congressional maps are not drawn and signed by Governor Abbott, he is required to call a special session of the legislators to draw the US Congressional maps.

The timing of the drawing of the maps and approval by Governor Abbott will create timing issues relating to the 2022 elections. Senator Joan Huffman has authored SB 1822 which relates to the postponement of certain dates relating to elections to be held in 2022.

The only requirement for the Texas voting district lines is that they must be contiguous for both the Texas Senate and House districts. The Texas State House lines must also follow county boundaries whenever possible. There are no requirements regarding the shape of the Congressional voting districts. There is no deadline for completion of the drawing and adoption of the plan.

Impact of Extreme Gerrymandering

Texas is the 7th most Gerrymandered state in the US *. The impact of partisan Gerrymandering is dramatic as demonstrated by the 2020 elections depicted in the chart.

Texas 2020 Congressional Results; pie charts show Republicans got 54.8% of votes and 63.9% of congressional seats in 2020

* Azavea, a Philadelphia-based firm places Texas at number 5. Brennan Center for Justice places it at number 6. Christopher Ingraham, a data specialist previously with the Brookings Institute and the Pew Research Center and now with the Washington Post’s Wonkblog section, places it at number 7. Where Texas ranks in any study depends on the methodology of the study.

Transparency

Fair Maps Texas  https://www.fairmapstexas.org,  a coalition of non-partisan non-profits spearheaded by League of Women Voters Texas, urged Texas legislators to delay public input hearings until after the US Census data became available. Typically, if a bill related to redistricting gets scheduled for a hearing, the public can attend and testify. 

Resources:

https://www.commoncause.org

https://www.brennancenter.org

League of Women Voters of Texas Position

The League of Women Voters of Texas supports the creation of an independent redistricting commission (IRC), with members that reflect the diversity of the community.

 

Political and racial gerrymandering distorts and undermines representative democracy by allowing officials to select their voters rather than for voters to elect their officials. When done for purposes of racial discrimination, or to ensure the dominance of one political party, gerrymandering runs counter to equal voting rights for all eligible voters. The League supports:
  1. An Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission as the preferred redistricting body;
  2. A "fair and open" redistricting process during the 87th legislative session; and
  3. A redistricting process that is transparent and open to the public.

For more information about the League of Women Voters Texas position on redistricting please click here: https://my.lwv.org/texas/position/redistricting

How to Establish an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in Texas (ICRC)

To establish an ICRC in Texas would require a change to the Texas Constitution. A bill would need to be introduced in the Texas House or Senate. It would need to pass in both houses by two-thirds and then the bill would need to be placed on the ballot. Over 50% of the voters would need to vote for the bill. Many states have established an independent redistricting commission, but their states did not require a change to their state constitution. The need to change the Texas constitution is what makes the establishment of an ICRC in the state of Texas so challenging.

Census and Redistricting Committee

Want to get involved? Let us know! Contact Joan Ridley jridley@ourusa.net or Karen Muncy karenmuncy@gmail.com 

Current Activities

After several months of research and information-gathering, the LWVD Redistricting/Census Committee has hit the ground running with a variety of initiatives.

 

Key for September is scheduling meetings with Dallas City Council members to:

  • solicit their input and perspectives on local redistricting issues and challenges.
  • acquaint them with LWVD redistricting priorities and concerns.

Committee volunteers are being assigned to meet with specific council members, and committee Chair Joan Ridley is leading a series of coaching sessions via Zoom so everyone is on the same page with our questions and message. Moving into October, the committee’s focus will shift to:

  • meeting with Dallas County Commissioners.
  • preparing to testify at public hearings on redistricting.

Again, October activities will include coaching sessions via Zoom, so everyone involved in these activities will be well-prepared to engage with elected officials and to advocate for a fair and open redistricting process. Public hearings for local redistricting have not been scheduled yet but we anticipate specific dates (and Zoom links) very soon. Important note: Committee members will be speaking for themselves, not as LWVD representatives.

The committee is also encouraging members to explore the DistrictR map drawing tool. Although this is an unfamiliar task for most (or all) of us, the tool makes it easier and we will be sharing how-to’s and other guidance to interested volunteers.

We also will be addressing how to write effective letters to the editor to keep our priorities and concerns public throughout the redistricting process.

The latest addition to the committee is our State and Congressional Redistricting Watchdogs. They are keeping an eye on what is occurring in Austin on a daily basis, and they are keeping the rest of us current on the status of the redistricting process and opportunities for activism.

We anticipate that there will be litigation on the state and congressional levels due to partisan and racial Gerrymandering. Our committee will keep current on court cases, court decisions and dissenting opinions. Committee members will continue to write summaries which will be posted on the website.

How to write Letters to the Editor (LTE’s) that stand a good chance of getting published

Joan Ridley - 10/14/2021

 Why Write LTEs?

  • Educate the community about the impact of partisan and racial Gerrymandering
  • Raise interest in our chapter & attract volunteers and speaking invitations
  • Alert news editors to “newsworthiness” of this issue. Large number of letters helps.
  • Get the attention of elected officials

Look for LTE Opportunities

Stories may not talk about Gerrymandering. Our job is to point out the relationship. Examples of topics to look for:

  • Stories about redistricting and Gerrymandering
  • Certain issues like climate change, health care and gun safety have redistricting/Gerrymandering angles
  • Look for articles where legislative activity (bills and laws) do not reflect the will of the people.Ex: they are contrary to surveys on a topic
  • Administrative agencies failing to regulate adequately – likely because Congress is caving to industry pressure

Letter to the Editor Tips

  • Find out how your publication requires letters to be submitted and whether there’s a word limit.For example, DMN has a 200 word limit.
  • Construct a good argument:
    • Open by saying “thank you for… “ such as “for publishing this article”, “focusing attention on this issue”, etc
    • Reference the story or opinion piece that you’re responding to.  
    • Transition into how the story relates to redistricting and Gerrymandering.
    • Avoid including figures and other facts as much as possible.Editors don’t have time to fact check and will eliminate your LTE.
    • Identify our solution: establish an independent redistricting commission (IRC).
    • Include a call to action – something that empowers people.  Ex: I support HB or SB (name the bill) that would establish an IRC. Do not say that LWV supports the bill or that you speak for, or represent, the LWV.
    • Call out elected officials – like your member of Congress – that you’re asking to take action
    • Tone: OK to be creative, passionate and forceful, but always be respectful and truthful. 
    • Don’t procrastinate; submit your letter as soon as you can after the opportunity arises.
    • Suggestion: write your LTE in Word and do a copy and paste to the DMN submission form after you have completed your line editing and word count.
    • Avoid including links.

Message content: How do I frame my problem statement to support the idea of establishing an IRC. 


Know the League’s key messages and make sure that they are communicated in letters. 

  • Consider an emotional appeal:
    • Why you personally care about this issue.
    • What impact does racial or partisan Gerrymandering have on the lives of everyday people?
    • State how racial or partisan Gerrymandering has influenced elections.
    • What future do you want to help create, and why? How does this issue affect that future?
  • It’s OK to say that you are a member of LWVD, but do not say or imply that you represent or speak for LWVD.

After You’re Published

  • Distribute it in your personal social media circles, too. (You’ll get lots of likes!)
  • Call it to the attention of Joan and Karen.The reason is that there are several versions of some publications.Your LTE could have been published in one but not the others so we might have missed it.

Discussion & Points for letters

Just about any issue where positions taken by our elected officials are contrary to those of the people is related to racial or partisan Gerrymandering. Here are a few examples:

  • Guns
  • Health care, Medicaid expansion, women’s reproductive care
  • Climate change
  • Immigration issues
  • Lack of civility and vitriolic rhetoric
  • Election issues
  • Voting rights issues

 

Where to submit your Letter to the Editor. (Please send us your own suggestions):

Dallas Morning News https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/2018/12/02/submit-a-letter-to-the-editor/

How to prepare for and deliver effective testimony

There are several reasons to testify before our elected officials.  

  • Written testimony is used as evidence in court cases. Because we anticipate that several lawsuits will be filed as a result of the current redistricting, your written testimony will play an important role in these lawsuits.  
  • Our elected officials want to hear from us, their constituents.   E-mails, phone calls and written letters are effective ways to speak out.  But, written testimony is arguably the most important tool we have to make our voices heard in this democracy.
    Please take a look at the guidelines in the PDF below for preparing and delivering effective testimony prepared by Stephanie Swanson, League of Women Voters Texas Redistricting Census Issue Chair for Texas. 

Map Drawing and Communities of Interest

In Texas, our State Senators and members of the House of Representatives draw maps of their districts which become bills. The governor then signs those bills, vetoes them, or they become law if the governor does not act on them within 20 days. The same basic process is used throughout the state for other jurisdictions such as County Commissioners Courts, Justices of the Peace and City Councils. In some jurisdictions, the maps are drawn by redistricting commissions which in some areas might be independent of the elected officials.

An effective way to demonstrate to redistricting officials how communities of interest would be best represented, anyone or any organization can draw a map that can result in fair representation for all. See District R https://districtr.org/.

Another method is to complete a survey https://forms.gle/PaorcLMkBdpUZg8g9 which results in a description of neighborhood and district boundaries.   You only need to complete a survey about one neighborhood in your district.   It's easy and only takes a few minutes to complete your survey.  

These maps and survey responses can be very effective when shared with our elected officials, especially as support for public testimony about protecting communities of interest.

The US Census

The first step in the redistricting process is the taking of the US Census. To learn more about the census and its impact, please click the links below:


Local Redistricting

Dallas City Council Proposed Redistricting Timeline 

  • August 16, 2021 – Delivery of Census Legacy file to states and locals
  • September 30, 2021 – Delivery of Census PL 94-171 Census data to states and locals
  • September 13, 2021 – Briefing of Dallas City Council Redistricting Commissioners 
  • September 14, 2021 – Final Census results briefing to the City Council
  • October 6, 2021 - First Dallas City Council Redistricting  Committee meeting https://dallascityhall.com/government/citysecretary/Pages/Public-Meetings.aspx
  •  October 14, 2021 (or 30 days after Census results briefing) – Redistricting Commission must be appointed (per City Charter) 
  • September 2021 thru Completion of Work (ideally late summer/early fall 2022) – Redistricting Commission works with third party consultant,  ARCBridge  Consultanting,  to develop a new districting plan Upon Redistricting Commission completion of work and submittal of a new districting plan to the Mayor (per City Charter) – City Council consideration of new districting plan (the City Council has 45 days after the districting plan is submitted to the Mayor to adopt, or modify and adopt, a new districting plan) 
    Note:  Any modification or change to the plan must be made in open session at a city council meeting, with a written explanation of the need for the modification or change and a copy of the proposed map with the modification or change made available to the public 72 hours before a vote, and the proposed plan must be approved by a vote of three-fourths of the members of the city council. If final action is not taken by the city council within 45 days after the plan was presented to the mayor, then the recommended plan of the redistricting commission will become the final districting plan for the city.
  • January/February 2023 – Filing period for May 2023 election 
  • May 6, 2023 – first City Council election under new districting plan

Dallas City Council Members

 

District

Name

Email address

Phone Number

Council Liaison

Email

1

Chad West

Chad.West@dallascityhall.com

214-670-0776

Mina Ramon

herminia.ramon@dallascityhall.com

2

Jesse Moreno

Jesse.Moreno@dallascityhall.com

214-670-4048

Evelyn Amaya

Evelyn.Amaya@dallascityhall.com

3

Casey Thomas

district3@dallascityhall.com

214-670-0777

Chris Soto

richard.soto@dallascityhall.com

4

Carolyn King Arnold

214-243-1527

Renita Griggs

district4@dallascityhall.com

5

Jaime Resendez

jaime.resendez@dallascityhall.com

214-670-4052

Penny Anderly

penny.anderly@dallascityhall.com

6

Omar Narvaez

omar.narvaez@dallcityhall.com

214-670-6931

Laura Cadena

laura.cadena@dallascityhall.com

7

Adam Bazaldua

214-670-6197

Yesenia Valdez

Yesenia.Valdez@dallascityhall.com

8

Tennell Atkins

214-670-4066

Maria Salazar

maria.salazar2@dallascityhall.com

9

Paula Blackmon

paula.blackmon@dallascityhall.com

214-671-8916

Zoe Halfmann

zoe.halfmann@dallascityhall.com

10

Adam McGough

adam.mcgough@dallascityhall.com

214-671-0435

Madeline Madrazo

madeline.madrazo@dallascityhall.com

11

Jayne Schultz

jayne.schultz@dallascityhall.com

214-670-7817

Sophia Figueroa

sophia.figueroa@dallascityhall.com

12

Cara Mendelsohn

cara.mendelsohn@dallascityhall.com

214-670-4067

Luis Delgado

luis.delgado@dallascityhall.com

13

Gay Donnell Willis

district13@dallascityhall.com

214-670-3816

Claire Noble

claire.noble@dallascityhall.som

14

Paul E. Ridley

paul.ridley@dallascityhall.com

214-670-5415

Max Sanchez

max.sanchez@dallascityhall.com

Dallas Redistricting Commissioners

Every city council member appoints one person to the Dallas City Redistricting Commission.

 

 

District

Name

Redistricting Appointee

1

Chad West

Robert Stimson

2

Jesse Moreno

Roy Carlos Lopez

3

Casey Thomas

Gregory V Demus

4

Carolyn King Arnold

Kebran Alexander

5

Jaime Resendez

Domingo Garcia

6

Omar Narvaez

Ricardo Medrano

7

Adam Bazaldua

Diane Ragsdale

8

Tennell Atkins

Randall Bryant

9

Paula Blackmon

Alexandra Guio

10

Adam McGough

Walter Alan Walne

11

Jayne Schultz

Matthew Garcia

12

Cara Mendelsohn

Jonathan Neerman

13

Gay Donnell Willis

Barbara Larkin

14

Paul E. Ridley

Norma Minnis

Dallas County Commissioners

Dallas County Commissioners Court Proposed Redistricting Process to be added when available

District

Name

Email address

Phone Number

Contact

Email

Phone

1

Theresa Daniel

Theresa.Daniel@dallascounty.org

214-653-6668

Marth Rodriguez

martha.rodriguez@dallascounty.org

214-653-1167

2

JJ Koch

JJ.Koch@dallascounty.org

214 653-6100

Peggy Lundy

jj.koch@dallascounty.org

214 653-6100

3

John Wiley Price

district3@dallascounty.org

972-225-2378

Dapheny Fain

district3@dallascounty.org

214-653-6671

4

Elba Garcia

Elba.GarciaDDS@dallascounty.org

214 339-8381

Brooks Love

brooks.love@dallascounty.org

214 653-6670

Judge

Clay Jenkins

dcjudge@dallascounty.org

214 653-7949

Lauren Trimble

Lauren.Trimble@dallascounty.org

214 653-6591


State and Congressional Redistricting

Speak out about fair redistricting, especially about communities of interest  to insure that they are fairly represented. Send an email to these Representatives and Senators today. For more, see LWV of Texas   https://lwvtexas.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=979482&module_id=473645.

Senate:

Dallas County has four Senators on the Texas Senate Special Committee on Redistricting.  To learn more about the Committee's activities, please go to https://senate.texas.gov/events.php  

House: 

Dallas County has two Representatives on the House Redistricting Committee.  To learn more about the Committee's activities, please go to https://house.texas.gov/schedules/committee-schedules/


Updates from Austin

Want to see the latest report from our volunteers? Log in (lwvdallas.org/login) or join (lwvdallas.org/join), and visit the Redistricting Committee Blog.

LWVD members Victoria Zudak, Dorothy Mundy  and Mary Jane Cross prepare an update of key happenings in Austin.  The following is the September 15, 2021 update

Redistricting  Process


 SB 13 sets the dates for the spring Primary Elections, depending when redistricting is finished:

  • By November 15, then Primary will be March 1 (filing deadline Dec. 13).
  • By Dec. 28, then Primary will be April 5 (filing deadline Jan. 24).
  • By Feb. 7, then Primary will be May 24 (filing deadline March 7).
  • For more information:  HRO Bill Analysis.


9/9 Big Tent Meeting/ Fair Maps Highlights.  Next Meeting 9/16 at regular time 10a

Concern that hearings have been lightly attended.  Stephanie responded that there have already been +/- 30 hearings so there has been plenty of public testimony in anticipation of the maps.  People are likely now waiting until the maps are out so they can give specific feedback.  Attendance in training on giving testimony has been good.

Stephanie Swanson asked that anyone who has connections/relationships with Legislators or staff  members reach out to them and advocate for fair  maps.   She is particularly interested in those on the Redistricting Committee.    If you have any contacts, let her know. pinpoint00@gmail.com

Sample Texas IRC (Independent Redistricting Commission) Bill

The provisions of following bill are consistent with the position of LWVTX.

 

The following is an example of what an Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) in Texas could look like.  Senate Joint Resolution 54 was introduced by Senator Nathan Johnson (SD16) in the 87th Legislative Session. It was read and referred to the Senate Special Committee on Redistricting on March 18, 2021.

 
It proposes an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would establish an IRC establishing districts for the election of the Texas members of the United States House of Representatives, the Texas Senate, and the Texas House of Representatives.

 

ARTICLE XVIII. INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION

 

Highlights – 

  • Creates a nonpartisan commission of 15 members.  Three selection pools are created based on the results of the most recent election.  The   selection pools include:  1) the majority party winner; 2) the minority party winner; and 3) the independent’s .  Two members are then selected from each of the 3 selection pools.  These initial members then choose 9 additional members - 3 from each selection pool. Membership must be representative of demographic groups including racial, ethnic, economic, and gender and geographic regions of the state.
  • Districts must equalize population of the districts in compliance with US constitution and these districts shall respect communities of interest, neighborhoods, and political subdivisions to the extent practicable; "community of interest" means an area with recognized similarities of interests, including ethnic, racial, economic, tribal, social, cultural, geographic or historic identities. The term may, in certain circumstances, include political subdivisions such as counties, municipalities, tribal lands and reservations, or school districts.
  • A redistricting plan may not, when considered on a statewide basis, unfairly favor or disfavor any political party. The determination of whether a redistricting plan has the effect of unfairly favoring or disfavoring a political party shall be based on the totality of circumstances, including whether the plan results in durable partisan bias as determined by scientifically accepted measures of partisan fairness and whether there are alternative plans that would have complied with the requirements of law and resulted in less durable levels of partisan bias. 
  • The plan is expressly prohibited from taking into consideration the residence of any member of the United States House of Representatives, the Texas Senate, or the Texas House of Representatives or a candidate for one of those offices; or the political party affiliation or voting history of the population of a district.
  • The independent redistricting commission shall hold each of its meetings in public, shall solicit and take into consideration comments from the public, including proposed maps, throughout the process of developing a redistricting plan, and shall carry out its duties in an open and transparent manner which provides for the widest public dissemination reasonably possible of its proposed and final redistricting plans.

Court Cases and Legal Opinions

Court Cases

Legal Opinions


Archived Resources

Details about 2010 redistricting and legislative votes that may be read here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_RXOt8-rn0vT16eq3WdbCIjjZ-EZuRFuu7e4iZfx3-g/edit?usp=sharing.


Quicklink for this page is http://lwvdallas.org/redistricting