Redistricting: Corruption on a Map
Note: This page is under reconstruction. Come back soon for an update in light of the 2023 Texas Legislative Session
"Gerrymandering is ripping our nation apart, stealing elections long before they take place." Jeff Harper, LIV Board member
Talk About Stealing Elections!
Redistricting is the highest stakes political poker game. The table only has two players – the Democratic and Republican parties.
Talk about stealing elections; this is where it happens long before we go to the polls. Because whichever party is in power gets the chips to pick their voters.
Most voters will tell you they want competitive elections. Competitive elections require competitive districts.
But for the slick political operatives who know how to manipulate a mapping program, primaries are all that count. Primary elections are won by appealing to a minority of the overall electorate. Then, which candidates are voters left to choose from in the general election?
Click on the trick rider to learn how LIV intends to disarm politicians of their redistricting weapons.
In most Congressional districts, whoever won the primary in a handpicked Republican or Democratic district, is in like Flynn. All voters are left with little reason to vote in November but especially independents. It does not matter that we are the largest number of voters in Texas -- approximately 40%.
What's Happening in Texas?
Watch our short video. Then come back here to look at the maps.
To see what systemic corruption looks like on a map,
(1) See PLANC2101 LEGISLATOR'S GERRYMANDER MAP (Map One) below;
(2) Be sure to enlarge the metro areas on the map on the Texas Legislative Council website;
(3) Then compare the metro areas of Map One with PLANC2102 CITIZEN'S COMPACT MAP (Map Two).
This will illustrate how far politicians go to pick their voters. Republicans, currently the controlling party in Texas, in the Texas Senate led by Senator Huffman (R-Houston) introduced Map One on Monday, September 27th, 2021.
Map Two was submitted to the Legislature by a group of redistricting reform advocates on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021. Note that Map Two has ZERO gerrymanders.
Texas Redistricting - an informal Facebook group dedicated to redistricting reform – drew Map Two after consulting with the super geeks, as in Harvard and MIT, at Dave's Redistricting.
The League of Independent Voters of Texas has endorsed Map Two over Map One – and it doesn't matter how many amendments Map One undergoes.
Map One: Legislators Gerrymander Map
Map Two: Citizens Compact Map
The "Huffman Plan" or Map One has undergone multiple amendments since its introduction. Yet gerrymanders still dominate it. It is inevitable. A foregone conclusion when the mapping process starts with the objective of maximizing seats for the political party in control of the redistricting pens - always beneath the watchful eye of incumbents. Map One could have a thousand amendments. Yet, it will never be better than Map Two because the wrong people are amending Map One – politicians.
On the other hand, the "Citizens Compact Map" reveals a focus on compactness, maintaining communities of interest, general competitiveness, and minority representation – as it should be and can be.
Folks, gerrymandering is the blatant theft of elections long before they take place. Stealing the right to vote for countless Americans, an insidious plague ripping our nation apart. For our country to endure, we must end gerrymandering.
How We Fix This
Take a minute to read this excellent piece about redistricting written by LIV Advisor and consummate educator Mark Miller. Read St. George and the Gerrymander.
Mark and LIV Board member numbers nerd, Jeff Harper, created LIV's three minute video on this page to tease out some ways to put the good old Texas stomp on redistricting rigging of our elections.
Some History on Texas Redistricting: A Legacy of Gerrymandering by Both Parties
Democrats ruled Texas, and therefore; redistricting with an iron fist until the early 90s, when Republicans became the dominant party in Texas. Once the Republicans took power in the early 90s, they have been sticking it to the Democrats ever since. Two wrongs don't make a right, now do they?
The good news is that partisan blood bathing -- together with the rise of independent, nonaligned voters -- has broadened the call to disarm both parties of their redistricting weapons with independent citizens redistricting commissions (ICRC). Eight states have commissions for Congressional redistricting, and 14 states have commissions for state legislature redistricting -- read more at Ballotpedia.
In November 2012, Austin voters passed the first, and so far, only ICRC in Texas. LIV Board member Linda Curtis helped lead the effort known as "10-1." An independent auditor screens commissioners. We love how the auditor and Commission members are chosen through a lottery system. Read more on Austin's ICRC.
Note: LIV leaders have been involved in the Texas redistricting process since 2003 when Rick Perry called a special session for mid-census redistricting. Perry was eager to help his political pal, Tom DeLay. No one could stop the Perry/DeLay train before expensive litigation ensued and DeLay's fall from grace (google it), notwithstanding DeLay's lack of grace on Dancing with the Stars. :) Sorry, we couldn't resist.
Commissions Exist in States With Initiative and Referendum -- I&R
These are states and jurisdictions that give citizens the right to petition to place measures on the ballot. Texas law only allows for citizen petitions at the municipal level. Read more about the petition process on LIV's IR&R and Homegrown Petitions pages.