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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Redistricting impacts minorities, state senator says

State Sen. Wendy Davis
State Sen. Wendy Davis

By Melissa Smith/reporter

Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis addressed one main question during a session about redistricting Jan. 31 on South Campus.

Discrimination: does it matter whether it is done intentionally or by accident if the results are the same?

The former TCC student said intent to discriminate does matter, at least when it comes to electoral redistricting.

State Sen. Wendy Davis

Redistricting is the process used by the state to adjust voting districts for changes in population based on the most recent U.S. Census data.

Changing district boundaries is an attempt to equalize population changes and to group people in a way that demographically mirrors the state’s overall population.

In Texas, it is not illegal for the controlling party to draw redistricting maps in a way that is politically advantageous. However, it is a violation of the Voting Rights Act to redistrict in a way that negatively impacts minorities.

“Redistricting maps can be drawn so that the population can be reflective of diversity or they can be drawn to suppress diversity,” Davis said.

Davis represents Senate District 10, which currently includes South and TR campuses. However, if the state adopts the Legislature’s redistricting map, Davis’ district boundaries will change in a way she described as “purposefully diluting minority voices.”

The geographic area where South is located will be drawn into a different district altogether.

Davis took questions from participants of the open forum composed of students, faculty and staff.

After introductions from South government associate professor Martha Musgrove and student government vice president Zinna Butcher, Davis explained the purpose and process of redistricting.

She also addressed the recent redistricting controversy and related Supreme Court hearings and district court lawsuits, including one she and others have filed against the state.

Calling attention to the impact these redistricting changes could have on local minority coalitions — specifically, Latino and black coalitions, Davis said the Republican-controlled legislature produced maps that showed “purposeful discrimination” and “partisan motivation.” Such intentional discrimination could be a violation of the Voting Rights Act, she said.

Davis then took questions from the forum. Brian Johnson, government and history assistant professor, asked about the Voter Identification Act, a new law requiring identification to vote that he described as “moving in the reverse direction” of greater political participation.

Davis agreed with his view and said the Voter Identification Act is akin to “a poll tax.” The motivation for passage of the Voter Identification Act shares a common thread with the issues surrounding the redistricting maps — minority discrimination, she said.

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