Learn about redistricting

Redistricting [ ree-dis-trikt-ing ] (noun)

The process of dividing (or organizing) an area into new political districts, as for administrative or electoral purposes.

How does redistricting affect me and my community?

Every 10 years, after the census, Texas state legislators gather to redraw our congressional and state legislative district boundaries. The legislators are tasked with ensuring that these districts are drawn fairly and with transparency so that the new districts have nearly equal populations and do not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity.

Unfortunately, in every redistricting cycle in the last half-century, Texas has been found to have intentionally discriminated against people of color or violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A federal court found intentional discrimination in the last round of redistricting in 2011 and highlighted a secret process and the exclusion of minority and public input during the process. 

This typical closed-door process with backroom deals between politicians undermines democracy. Instead of voters picking politicians, you end up with politicians picking their voters. Texas is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country.

Redistricting impacts every aspect of our lives. As a practical matter, it determines which politicians get to vote on the issues each of us care about, from healthcare, to education, to immigration, and beyond. When politicians pick their voters, they have no incentive to be responsive to the actual wishes of the people, and we end up with policies that a majority of the people oppose.

As cities, counties, and the state legislature gear up for the next round of redistricting, we want to ensure that more Texans have an opportunity to make their voices heard. The public field hearings are a vital process in the redistricting efforts to ensure fairness and transparency. By participating in a public hearing we can help put pressure on politicians to take common sense measures to draw fair maps.

How does redistricting work in Texas?

To begin this process, the Texas legislature appoints members of redistricting committees in the House and Senate, which hold hearings around the state leading up to redistricting. These redistricting committees have the initial responsibility for proposing and approving new maps maps. As the field hearings are going on, the federal Census Bureau is doing its work to collect the latest information on who lives where in the country.

Under normal circumstances, the Census would have released the new data to the states in March of 2021, in time for the legislature to draw maps during its regular legislative session, which ended May 31, 2021. Due to delays caused by the COVID pandemic, however, the Census will not be providing states with the data until late August or September of 2021.

After the detailed census numbers are released, our Texas legislators must use that data to craft redistricting plans in time for the 2022 elections. The One-Person-One-Vote principle of the United States Constitution requires the legislature to draw districts with roughly equal populations using the new data in order to ensure that each person is entitled to roughly the same political representation as the next.

Other principles also guide the redistricting process. One of the most important is compliance with the Voting Rights Act, which requires that individuals cannot have their votes diluted on the basis of race, ethnicity, or language group, 

ince the 1960s, state and federal courts have played an outsized role in the Texas’ redistricting process, often stepping in to invalidate maps that are drawn by the legislature, and occasionally drawing the maps themselves when the legislature fails to pass valid redistricting plans.

Given the legislature's history of backroom deals and intentional discrimination when it comes to drawing new maps, it is incredibly important that YOU, as a Texan whose representation is determined by this process, have a voice. Through the links on this site, you can find more information about:

- The background of Texas redistricting
- How to participate in the process
- How to sign up for a training to get ready for redistricting in the Fall of 2021
- What is a community of interest and how you can advocate for yours at the legislature

What do the current districts look like?

Following the links below, you can check out Texas's current district maps for Congress and the state legislature. You can take a look at some of the demographic, political, and legal metrics for these districts by clicking on the "Eval." and "VRA" tabs once you open the maps. Keep in mind that these were made using 2010 census data, so will have to change dramatically. ALSO REMEBER, similar maps were struck down multiple times by courts as being illegal, and Texas is considered one of the most gerrymandered states in the country.

When does the next redistricting happen and how can I participate?

Our state legislators will begin redrawing our congressional and state legislative maps during the Redistricting Special Session starting September 20, 2021. These new maps will be drawn to include the nearly 4 million new Texans added to our population over the past decade. As a part of this process, both the House and the Senate Redistricting Committees have stated that they may/will provide hearings on map proposals. It will be crucial that Texans from all across the state give input on whether these maps accurately reflect the communities they attempt to serve.

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