In 2011, Texas drew election maps that intentionally discriminated against people of color. A federal district court that reviewed those maps noted the
"exclusion of minority member and public input despite the minority population growth, the misleading information, the secrecy and closed process, and the rushed process.”
Recently the same panel of judges stated,
“Given the record produced in 2011, the State must implement a process that, by any reasonable definition, is ‘fair and open.’”
Recommendations for a fair & open Redistricting process
***NOTE: These recommendations have been updated to reflect the rules that the House and Senate have adopted for the 87th Legislative Session.
Hold Public Input Hearings After the Census Data is Delivered to the State
The optimal time to hold public hearings is after the census (redistricting) data is delivered to the state, that way a meaningful dialogue can occur between members of the public and the committee, with actual redistricting data in hand.
"We understand that the timeline for redistricting is short, but we are asking that the Legislature not to use this as an excuse to exclude the public from deliberations."
Virtual committee hearings should be held throughout the entire legislative session.
In order to protect the health and safety of all Texas, virtual hearings and virtual testimony should be permitted throughout the entire legislative session and throughout any special session that may follow. The public has the right to be a part of the legislative process.
"The public deserves the chance to comment on the plans, especially if they feel like the maps would negatively impact their community's ability to receive fair representation."
We Need at Least 14 Days to Review the Maps
Maps must be made public at least 14 days in advance of any public hearings or votes in order to allow sufficient time for the public to review the maps, prepare testimony, and propose alternative maps.
"It takes time to review the maps to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act. The rushed process that the Legislature used in 2011 and 2013 (which is currently being used again) contributed to the adoption of discriminatory maps.
The public needs ample opportunity to review the Legislature's work. These maps will impact our communities for the next decade."
We Need 5 Days to Review Any Changes to Proposed Maps
Any amendments (changes) offered to a map proposal must be presented at least 5 days in advance of any vote to allow for the public to analyze the proposed amendments and advocate for or against them.
"Currently, the Legislature is proposing 24 hours to review proposed amendments (changes to proposed plans.) A federal district court already found that amount of time to be grossly insufficient during last decade's litigation."
Provide an Analysis of How the New Maps Impact Historically Disenfranchised Communities of Color
The Bill Analysis for any map proposal must include analysis of how the proposed map affects the ability of communities of color and VRA-protected language minorities to elect candidates of their choice.
"In 2011, Texas drew election maps that intentionally discriminated against people of color. Groups protected by the Voting Rights Act were denied 5 U.S. Congressional seats, which means that those groups are entering the 2021 redistricting with a large deficit.
While the Supreme Court has said that partisan gerrymandering is ok, this does not mean that the Legislature has a green light to exclude public input in the maps, especially from communities of color.”
Keep All Documents, Written Communications, Emails, Text Messages and Draft Maps.
As the legislative committees begin the redistricting process, we expect the entire process — from beginning to end — to be fully transparent to the general public. There should be full disclosure of every aspect of the legislature's work: data, communications, consultations or proposals, from whatever source. Claims of ‘legislative privilege’ have no place when it comes to redistricting.
"Already, organizations involved in redistricting, including ones associated with members of the Texas House redistricting committee, are following the Hofeller dossier playbook for gerrymandering and encouraging legislators to hide and destroy their emails and other communications. We want the legislators to know that voters will not stand for such cynical, secretive behavior.
District lines should not be decided in a back room. Sunshine is the best disinfectant".