Why You're Not Voting Today
How gerrymandering took Texas out of Super Tuesday
By Richard Whittaker,
10:40AM, Tue. Mar. 6, 2012
Today is Super Tuesday, and the Texas primaries were supposed to be today. But they're not. Now they're scheduled for May 29 – if we're lucky. And this is not an accident. It is not a twist of fate. This is the result of the GOP gerrymandering.
Texas was supposed to be the 11th Super Tuesday state, but the ongoing legal wranglings have pushed the date back twice: First to April 3, now to the day after the long Memorial day weekend. There will be huge ramifications for these shifts (find out more about those in the new issue of the Chronicle, on stands on Thursday) but here's the big question: Who is to blame?
Now one could argue that the San Antonio court set this in motion when they drew completely new House, Senate and Congressional maps in November, but that timeline still allowed plenty of time for a March 6 primary. Arguably, it is their protracted discussions about the re-redrawn interim maps, ordered by the US Supreme Court, that created the need for the May 29 date, but March 6 was already dead when they released the new calendar.
One could argue that SCOTUS was to blame because they blocked the lower court's interim map. Admittedly, that was the point where March 6 became impossible: The parties had already agreed on a revised April 6 date the final SCOTUS ruling ordering the re-redrawing, but it was their initial delay that ensured the first delay.
Or maybe one could blame the Department of Justice for refusing preclearance.
One could even argue that it was the Democrats and minority voting rights groups because if they had only accepted the legislative process and started campaigning earlier, rather than fighting the elections in the courts, then none of this would have happened.
But to make those arguments is to ignore reality and justice.
If the San Antonio panel has erred, it is by allowing a map that basically gives the state's attorneys everything they want. If SCOTUS erred, it was by adding confusion over the role of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in this discussion. Much as Republicans are trying to claim that the DoJ should have stayed out of this, and are trying to make electoral hay from it, that's just misdirection. And if there is any blame amongst minority rights groups, it may be the MALDEF seems to have abandoned its commitment to coalition and crossover districts, where minority groups can come together to elect their candidate of preference.
Let's put the blame right where it belongs: The Republican Party of Texas and its members in the Texas House, Senate, and state leadership. If they had not delayed redistricting so they could shove through voter ID, if they had not been so drunk with power that they thought they could slice and dice to their hearts' desire, then there may have been a chance at a regular election year. And they knew before anyone else that this was going to be solved by litigation: In May, Senate Redistricting Committee, Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo told the Chronicle that the process was going to end up either in the courts or in a special session.
Their final decision – to crowbar through maps that they knew would never pass VRA muster – lit the fuse on this process, and they knew it. So if you're wondering why Texas isn't a Super Tuesday state in 2012, now you know.