Fair Maps Texas Weekly Action (11-27-18)
*U.S Congressional Redistricting
This week’s action: Arm your legislators with the knowledge they need to navigate congressional redistricting in Texas. Remember, if possible, direct your message to the Chief of Staff.
Suggested Script: [Please report any comments or questions to our website through the form on the right ->.]
“Hi, My name is ________, and I would like to urge Rep/Senator _______ to cosponsor legislation that would create an independent redistricting commission for our U.S. congressional districts. Such a commission could be created by passing a state statute, since the Texas State Constitution does not specify any standards for the state’s congressional districts. In the 2018 midterms, Democrats won 47% of the votes in TX's U.S. congressional races but only won 36% of the seats (13 of 36 of the seats.) This is the definition of gerrymandering and shows that partisan redistricting disadvantages voters on the basis of their political views.
I also wanted to make sure that your office was aware of the timeline for congressional redistricting here in TX. Our state law does not set a particular deadline for drawing congressional district lines, and the Backup Commission is not permitted to work on these plans. That means that the Legislature has until January 2, 2022 to pass new plans into law. We want to urge the Legislature to take their time when drawing new plans and collect more testimony from the public about what their community looks like, so that the maps reflect our state’s diversity."
Possible response: “Extending the timeline to draw these maps would force the Governor to call a Special Session.”
Your response: “The cost of a Special Session is far less than what the state has spent defending the maps in the courts since 2011, a total which has far surpassed $5 million.”
Here are some important things you should know about our U.S. Congressional Districts:
Texas’ Congressional districts have a higher level of gerrymandering than the state legislative districts.
In the 2018 midterms, Democrats won 47% of the votes but only won 36% of the seats (13 of 36 of the seats.). That means Democrats are short roughly 4-5 seats.
The Texas Constitution does not define any standards for how our congressional districts are drawn. That means that we can modify their redistricting process by passing a state statute.
The backup commission is not allowed to draw congressional districts.