Why You're Not Voting Today

How gerrymandering took Texas out of Super Tuesday

Why You're Not Voting Today

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.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Gerrymandering
Texas' Big, Bad Week for Voter Suppression and Gerrymandering
Texas' Big, Bad Week for Voter Suppression and Gerrymandering
Within two days, courts reject second election map, voter ID bill

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 25, 2017

Court: Texas House Districts Unlawful, Unconstitutional
Court: Texas House Districts Unlawful, Unconstitutional
Panel of judges rules 2-1 against drawing of 2011 maps

Richard Whittaker, April 20, 2017

More Election 2012
Austin Studios Puts Out the 'For Rent' Sign
Austin Studios Puts Out the 'For Rent' Sign
Austin Film Society seeks anchor tenants to build a new community

Richard Whittaker, Feb. 6, 2014

Austin ISD: New Board, New President
Austin ISD: New Board, New President
Vince Torres to lead trustees as new era begins

Richard Whittaker, Nov. 20, 2012

More by Richard Whittaker
Rooster Teeth Announces <i>RWBY Justice League</i> Film
Rooster Teeth Announces RWBY Justice League Film
DC crossover one big surprise of many from the RTX panel

July 1, 2022

Mad God
Phil Tippett's stop motion masterpiece of depravity and the divine

July 1, 2022

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Gerrymandering, Election 2012, 2012 Primaries, SCOTUS

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle