In the U.S, census is done after every ten years. Decennial census, a census carried out for the purpose of redistricting, involves people’s age, gender, origin and race and is done by the House of Representatives. This census should be very accurate as it determines the basis for redistricting and distribution of resources. Redistricting is, therefore, a legal exercise and occurs only after data has been collected through census. This data about a population is used to redraw boundaries in all states for equality.
In Texas, the legislature redistricts boundaries for the state’s congressional and legislative districts. This redistricting is guided by a legal framework and the Texas constitution entrusts this task to the lawmakers. However, the Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB) is allowed to carry out redistricting, within sixty days, in the case where the legislature has failed in its mandate (Anderson 726). Anderson notes that the constitution does not provide a guide when redistricting does not meet the set timelines (722). This has led to a major concern on the legality of redistricting done past the allowed time after census data has been availed.
Currently, the Texas Constitution only requires redistricting be done after decennial data has been released which portrays poor public policy (Anderson 722). This law has been criticized as it is seen as a move for political leaders to be able to determine results before even voting. Anderson proposes that during redistricting, each district should have an equal number of voters so as to ensure that no leader has the upper hand during elections (722). There is also a major concern about discrimination based on age and race. For example, Latinos have complained that redistricting has been used to ensure that they do not get positions in representation houses.
During redistricting, a district may get a population that is largely not of age to vote. It is largely thought that the youth are likely to litter the environment. The “Don’t Mess with Texas” slogan, that seeks to help keep the state clean could be impacted by redistricting. Having a population with a balanced number of youths who are thought to litter the state would help. Anderson, therefore, proposes using computer applications to get homogenous districts comprising of all ages, races and gender, and increasing representations to help in redistricting (723-725).
Population in different states changes with time with most states experiencing population growth over time. The demographics such as race and gender also change as people often migrate and intermarry. The task of redistributing should be a responsibility of the state’s legislation. This is because the representatives understand the nature of their state and Anderson says it would help to avoid court cases all the time (747).
The United States Supreme Court allows the legislature of a state to draw boundaries that have proportional representation if it desires. For example, Anderson states that a plan based on the Justice Department’s representations on non-whites is justifiable in drawing a district (749). The courts and judicial bodies are also faced with many legal battles regarding redistricting. They often look at the extent to which redistricting affects voting trends and other rights of the citizens. However, in the Texas efforts for clearer procedures in redistricting, there was a serious delay in ruling and the standards of judicial process questioned. Anderson, therefore, argues that, since the legal framework is still not clear, and the court process may be slow, the judicial department should not be included in redistricting (749). Texas continues with to struggle to improve its redistricting laws and criteria or better representation of its people.
- Anderson, Arthur J. “Texas Legislative Redistricting: Proposed Constitutional and Statutory Amendments for an Improved Process.” SMU Law Review, vol. 43, no. 2, 1989, pp. 719-757, scholar.smu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2779&context=smulr.