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Use of Political Lines on Texas Maps Upsets Voters, Lawmakers

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, was on the redistricting committee ten years ago. She's not on it this year but says special sessions on voting maps tend to be similar.

"Most other issues you can compromise, you can negotiate, but redistricting becomes so political," Sen. Nelson said.

Sakar Chapman Thomas agrees. She’s an African American Travis County resident who testified before the Senate Redistricting Committee today and spoke against the carving of the capital into five Congressional districts.

"It looks as though it is a concerted effort to silence the voices of the minority voters in this county, which normally vote Democratic," she said.

To get more input like hers, the House Redistricting Committee heard from the public in Dallas today and the Senate panel is heading to Corpus Christi Friday, followed by Houston on Saturday.

State Sen. Royce West said it's important to hear voters' voices, though he says he doesn't understand why the Senate committee isn't visiting Dallas this session. Nevertheless, he says he's hopeful that this year, the Legislature will seriously consider public input.

"The D.C. Court told the State of Texas in its last quote-on-quote redistricting effort it intentionally discriminated," Sen. West said. "I’m hoping that that language, even though it’s on appeal, within itself will be a lesson for my colleagues that are now tasked with the responsibility of coming up with a fair map."

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