Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Voting Rights Act Revived in Texas: 3 maps

The 2011 Texas Legislature redistricted three maps to shift the previous decades massive population growth into new legislative districts.  This was done for the Texas House and Senate, and for the US Congress with four new seats added to the U.S. House from Texas. The maps created were so discriminatory against minorities that they were immediately challenged and repeatedly declared discriminatory by the courts.  Most recently, on 8-28-12, a three judge Federal Court in Washington affirmed that judgement. The maps are now on the way to the Supreme Court.  Study the three reports below, one on each map. Form your own opinion.  What should the decision be?  
Anatomy Chart on Texas House Map PlanH283
(Right-click on image above & hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
The chart above is for Texas House map PlanH283 for the 150 Texas House districts. The study of this map was done with a bar chart due to the large number of 150 legislative districts. It more easily illustrates the gerrymandering pattern of discrimination, a pattern that has the same components in each map. Each map has an area that is designated as a "Maximum Win" area and a "Maximum Loss" area. In the bar chart above, the area highlighted with yellow is the Maximum Loss area.  The green area is the Maximum Win area. Notice the consistent fact that Anglo districts dominate the Maximum Win areas in every map.  Minority districts dominate the Maximum Loss areas in every map.  How can that be an accident?
Anatomy of Texas State Senate Map PlanS148r
(Right-click on above image and hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

In both the Texas State Senate map above and the Congressional map below it was easy to document the "gaps" that existed. In the Maximum Loss area there were no Anglo districts. In the Maximum Win area there were no Minority districts.
Anatomy of Texas Congressional Map for U.S. House Map PlanH283
(Right-click on above image and hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
These maps are perfect examples of gerrymandering. They should find their way into the next generation of government class text books in Texas.
These maps are also online at,, and

Questions are welcomed and encouraged.

Hopefully the above information will help in spreading the word as to the debt of thanks we owe the Legislators of 2011 who designed these maps. They have created maps that will help assure everyone involved, including the judges, that the Voting Rights Act should have a long life.

Such maps must NEVER again become law and go into use. They reflect the painful history of racism that, with the current creation of these maps, obviously continues to afflict Texas. These maps should only be used in text books as examples of the gerrymandering damage that can be done to democracy if voters are not vigilant.

I've joined the League of Women Voters to work together with them in maintaining our democracy and the right to vote. (There are now over 18 men who are members in Dallas.  Everyone is welcome to join!)  It is an honor to work with them to continue their noble history of achievements on behalf of our nation, and democracy.  Join your local League of Women Voters and support democracy!

7-14-13 addendum: It appears maps very similar to those above will become the law in Texas now that the Supreme Court has kicked out critical protections in the Voting Rights Act. This is a painful and uncertain time in the history of our nation.  Will the necessary work be done?

Bill Betzen

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