The Austin Chronicle

Abbott Maps Meet Minority Opposition

By Richard Whittaker, February 10, 2012, News

In a desperate attempt to save the April 3 primary date, Attorney General Greg Abbott has drawn a series of new interim maps – which critics say are as gerrymandered and oppressive to minority voting rights as any proposed to date. With no consensus imminent among parties in the redistricting case and a Feb. 6 deadline set by a San Antonio court, Abbott released his own plan for the House, Senate, and Congressional seats, claiming that it is supported by some plaintiffs. He had previously attempted to split the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus off from the other plaintiffs, offering them a deal that would increase the number of Hispanic opportunity seats. Only MALDEF took the bait: In a statement, the group said that "MALDEF and the [Texas Latino Redistricting] Task Force believe the congressional plan reflects the tremendous demographic growth in Texas." However, not all Hispanic voting rights group agree: The League of United Latin American Citizens has filed a joint advisory opposing these maps. The Lone Star Project calculates that, rather than adding minority opportunity seats, Abbott's proposals would keep the total number static. Moreover, Abbott drew new Hispanic opportunity districts at the expense of African-American voters. Texas State NAACP President Gary Bledsoe noted that "sadly, but not surprisingly, all three ... Texas African-American Congresspersons had their offices left out of their districts."

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