WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXAN) — The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the state of Texas — saying the state’s new redistricting maps deny and dilute votes from people of color.
The DOJ said Texas’ new maps purposely violate Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act based on certain voters’ race and/or minority group — also known as “vote dilution.”
“Section 2 prohibits vote dilution, which occurs when an electoral practice minimizes or cancels out the voting strength of a racial group or language minority group… Discriminatory voting schemes are illegal. The Department’s voting law experts have assessed Texas’ new redistricting plans and determined that they include districts that violate the Voting Rights Act,” it stated.
The lawsuit notes that the vast majority of Texas’ population growth over the past decade came from Black, Latino and Asian people, but the new maps that state Republicans drew don’t give any of these communities new opportunities to choose their own representatives.
Instead, the maps pack Black and Latino communities into bizarre-shaped districts — a Dallas-area one is referred to as a “seahorse” shape — while preserving safe seats for white Republicans.
The lawsuit announcement comes just a month after the DOJ filed a separate lawsuit against Texas over the passage of Senate Bill 1, which was signed into law in September. It bans 24-hour polling locations, increases identification requirements and implements restrictions on drive-thru voting and voting by mail.
Texas Republican lawmakers have pushed the legislation, which arose amid a nationwide push by the GOP to crack down on alleged voter fraud.
SB 1 and similar bills have been condemned by Democrats and other voters who say the legislation is intended to prevent voters of color from casting ballots.
“A core principle of our democracy is that voters should choose their representatives — not the other way around,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a briefing Monday. “Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act requires state voting laws — including laws that draw electoral maps — provide eligible voters with equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process and elect representatives of their choosing.”
The DOJ said it’s putting all its resources into pursuing these cases.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.