HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — The Texas legislature is finalizing its redrawn congressional district maps and voting rights groups say the changes will hurt minority voters as well as diminish representation.
The new maps can affect who your representatives are at the state and federal levels. It can also change your voting precinct where you are allowed to physically vote.
“You have to have an entire precinct for each district, you can’t have any partials or splits. We might have to change some people’s voting precincts,” said Remi Garza, the Cameron County election administrator.
While there aren’t presidential or midterm elections this year there are some local elections taking place. On the ballot, you’ll see eight state constitutional amendments as well as county-level initiatives.
The new district maps that are being worked out won’t be finished in time for these elections so you can still vote in your current precinct.
Exactly when the new districts will become official is still to be determined.
“There’s always the potential of court challenges so that could actually delay it even further, so we expect to have at least some idea of where people may be located – probably – within the next week or two,” Garza said.
Garza said that they will be finished in time for the midterms in 2022.
Dr. Andrew Smith, a political science professor at UTRGV, said the congressional map is being gerrymandered in order to stop Texas from becoming a battleground state.
The map “is designed to make sure that, or to make it likely I should say, that republicans can maintain their congressional and legislative majorities,” Smith said.
He said the new maps are making accurate representation more difficult for minority groups.
“Hispanic voters are being split up into different districts –allegedly– to dilute the Hispanic voice,” Smith said.
There is a chance that the redrawn district maps could be challenged on the grounds of racial gerrymandering, which would be unconstitutional, and require the offending districts to be redrawn not based on racial lines.