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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on May 18, 2020. (Photo: Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool via Getty Images)

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more state businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic at a press conference in Austin on May 18, 2020. (Photo: Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool via Getty Images)

Corporate Dems of US Senate Blamed as GOP Texas Governor Approves 'Rigged' Voting Maps

"We must protect our democracy with federal legislation immediately and defeat these cynical politicians at the ballot box."

Jessica Corbett

Bolstering criticism of the few U.S. Senate Democrats who continue to impede key party priorities—including voting rights protections—by refusing to reform or abolish the filibuster, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed "extremely gerrymandered" political maps that could help the GOP retain control of the state for another decade.

"It is a monumentally bad idea to let politicians draw their own district maps."

Abbott's approval of Texas' new congressional, legislative, and State Board of Education districts—which will be used for next year's elections if not blocked in court—comes just after U.S. Senate Republicans filibustered the Freedom to Vote Act.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key opponent of killing the filibuster, failed to win 10 GOP votes in favor of that compromise federal legislation, which he helped craft after Republicans repeatedly blocked the bolder For the People Act earlier this year.

"The inaction by corporate Democrats in the U.S. Senate encourages this behavior," the group People for Bernie said in response to Abbott's move Monday.

Noting that the "rigged" Texas maps "consolidate white power as the white population is shrinking as a percentage of the state," journalist and voting rights expert Ari Berman wrote last week for Mother Jones:

This stranglehold on power will embolden Republicans to continue to pass extreme and unpopular policies, like the six-week abortion ban, permission to carry guns without a permit, and the sweeping voter suppression bill enacted in the last year.

Some of the most egregious examples of gerrymandering are achieved by targeting diverse communities and those who represent them.

Dismantling competitive districts in once-reliably Republican suburbs where Hispanic, Black, and Asian American voters are electing their preferred candidates or are on the verge of doing so is a defining feature of the new maps.

Common Cause Texas executive director Anthony Gutierrez noted in a statement Monday that redistricting intended to favor Republicans isn't new to the state.

"With his signature today, Gov. Abbott continues the shameful five-decade-long tradition of ramming through extremely gerrymandered maps in an undemocratic process," Gutierrez said. "These racially and partisan gerrymandered maps deny every voter in Texas from having an equal say in the issues we care about most, like a stronger economy, better schools, and affordable healthcare."

"None of the maps accurately reflect the changing population of our state. Instead, these maps are intentionally designed to silence Black and Brown voters from having a voice in our democracy and erase their representation in our government," he added. "This entire process served to remind us all as to why it is a monumentally bad idea to let politicians draw their own district maps."

The maps were already being challenged in court before gaining approval from the governor, and another suit targeting the congressional boundaries was filed Monday by voters and Voto Latino with support from the National Redistricting Action Fund (NRAF), an affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee chaired by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

"We simply cannot allow Gov. Abbott to deny Texans a free and fair election through these undemocratic, gerrymandered maps that fail spectacularly to represent the state's growing communities of color," said Holder. "Abbott is running away from a fair fight and is doing everything possible to avoid elections with a map that properly reflects Texas' significant demographic growth over the past decade. These communities deserve a new map that complies with the Voting Rights Act and puts power back in the hands of Texans."

"The Texas GOP's efforts silence Latino voices through diminishing the power of their voting, packing and dividing them into convoluted district lines that lessen their representation, and making it harder to elect representatives of their choice," charged Voto Latino CEO María Teresa Kumar.

"Latino population growth was the primary factor in why Texas has been allotted two new congressional seats next cycle, yet these new redistricting lines are further evidence that Texas Republicans believe they can act with impunity in their crusade to suppress the vote," she said.

This is the first redistricting since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in the 2013 case Shelby County v. Holder.

"Ten years ago, the Texas GOP would've needed 'pre-clearance' before these new voting maps could go into effect—same for its voter suppression measures," lawyer and MSNBC columnist Dean Obeidallah explained Monday. "But with that key part of the VRA gutted—and with a 6-to-3 Republican majority on the Supreme Court—the GOP is going full throttle in its efforts to maintain white supremacy."

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the pre-clearance provision of the VRA, as soon as this week, though Republicans are expected to block the House-approved bill, as they have done with other voting rights legislation this session.

Following the failure of the Freedom to Vote Act last week, President Joe Biden said during a televised town hall that "we're going to have to move to the point where we fundamentally alter the filibuster," confirming to host Anderson Cooper that he supported reforms to pass voting rights legislation "and maybe more."


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