It remains unclear when Texas voters will be able to cast their ballots for the primary election. Texas could potentially have two versions of redistricting maps to choose from.
The San Antonio district court is redrawing interim redistricting maps to be used in the upcoming election, following an order from the nation's highest court. And the state Legislature's redistricting maps are pending an approval from a federal district court.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 20 voided San Antonio court-drawn interim redistricting maps, stating the new maps should resemble the state Legislature's.
"A district court should take guidance from the state's recently enacted plan in drafting an interim plan," the ruling said. "That plan reflects the state's policy judgments on where to place new districts and how to shift existing ones in response to massive population growth."
Redistricting is a decennial process that requires state lawmakers to redraw the state's congressional and legislative lines to reflect population changes as shown by the release of U.S. Census Bureau figures. The state gained four additional congressional seats as a result of population growth.
State Sen. Mario Gallegos Jr., D-Houston, who is vice chairman of the state Senate Committee on Redistricting, said he hopes the new interim maps will reflect the state's current Hispanic/Latino population. Gallegos Jr. said he was disappointed by the Legislature- and court-drawn maps, which neglected the growth of Latino residents in Texas.
The state's Hispanic/Latino population grew by 38 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the census.
"It doesn't take a fourth-grader with a big chief tablet and a No. 2 pencil to understand that Dallas deserves a Latino state Senate opportunity district and a Latino state Congressional district opportunity," he said. "We have grown by leaps and bounds in the Latino population."
State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, said in a prepared statement that she is hopeful the San Antonio court will draw new interim maps to enhance minority voting power in her district and fairly reflect the minority population growth. Davis was drawn out of her district under the now voided court maps.
"We are delighted that the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that adjustments should be made where the San Antonio court has found the likelihood of Section 2 violations or a 'reasonable probability' of Section 5 violations, which was exactly how the San Antonio panel of judges drew the current interim maps," Davis said.
A three-judge federal district court in Washington, D.C., is scheduled on Feb. 3 to hear closing arguments on whether to approve the Legislature maps under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which bans racial discrimination in voting.
Davis testified in federal district court on Jan. 20, and said there is a "reasonable probability" the judges will deny the Legislature's Senate map because it discriminates against minority voters.