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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Five Ways Courts Say Texas Discriminated Against Black and Latino Voters

by Lois Beckett and Suevon Lee, ProPublica

How does Texas discriminate against minority voters? Federal judges counted the ways.

Last Tuesday, a panel of federal court judges ruled that new district maps drawn by Texas’ Republican-controlled legislature weakened the influence of Latino voters and in some cases evinced “discriminatory intent” against both Latinos and African Americans. Two days later, another panel of federal judges unanimously struck down a voter-ID law passed by the legislature in March 2011, arguing that it would disproportionately harm African-American and Latino voters. The judges did not address whether there was discriminatory purpose behind the legislation, but they noted that the legislature failed to pass amendments that would have mitigated the law’s discriminatory impact.

Minority groups have outnumbered whites in Texas since roughly 2004, and 55.2 percent of the state’s residents are now minorities, according to Census figures. As of 2011, the state’s legislature was more than two-thirds white.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office declined to comment on the specifics of the rulings, but Abbott has promised to appeal both cases to the U.S. Supreme Court. In news releases, he said that the Supreme Court had already upheld voter-ID laws, and that the redistricting decision “extends the Voting Rights Act beyond the limits intended by Congress and beyond the boundaries imposed by the Constitution.”

Both decisions hinged on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states with a history of racial discrimination in voting — including Texas — to prove that any changes in their voting laws or procedures do not hamper the voting rights of minorities. Enacted in 1965, the Voting Rights Act aimed to eliminate discriminatory voting practices that had long been used to suppress the black vote, particularly in southern states. Section 5 has been challenged, including in two cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, as an outdated provision that unfairly singles out certain states. The Court has not decided if it will hear the cases.

The rulings detailed several examples of discriminatory practices in Texas:

1. Lawmakers drew some districts that looked like Latino majority districts on paper — but removed Latinos who voted regularly and replaced them with Latinos who were unlikely to vote.

In the redistricting case, a panel of three federal judges found that Texas lawmakers had intentionally created districts that would weaken the influence of Latino voters, while appearing to satisfy the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.

In drawing Texas’ 23rd congressional district, the judges found that “The mapdrawers consciously replaced many of the district’s active Hispanic voters with low-turnout Hispanic voters in an effort to strengthen the voting power of [Congressional District] 23’s Anglo citizens. In other words, they sought to reduce Hispanic voters’ ability to elect without making it look like anything in [Congressional District] 23 had changed.”

In 2010, the 23rd district narrowly elected a Latino Republican, Francisco “Quico” Canseco. One email to a Republican mapdrawer, released during the legal battle over the maps, shows that Republicans were trying to increase the chances Canseco would be re-elected.

Lawmakers used a similar tactic in redrawing a state house district, modifying it “so that it would elect the Anglo-preferred candidate yet would look like a Hispanic ability district on paper,” the court ruled. An “ability district” is one in which a minority group has the capability to elect representatives of its choosing. The judges concluded that the legislature had been trying to make this district appear as if it satisfied the requirements of the Voting Rights Act, while actually trying to benefit white voters.

Judge Thomas B. Griffith, writing the unanimous opinion of the three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, called it “a deliberate, race-conscious method to manipulate not simply the Democratic vote but, more specifically, the Hispanic vote.”

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  • In all fairness, re-districting has been used for decades in more states than just Texas as a tool to increase political majorities, win elections, and disenfranchise minorities. Texas, however, moved to the next phase of the GOP agendae, by reminding voters that electing a person that is not to their liking my result in civil unrest and civil war…while at the same time deploring divisive political strategies!

    • So it has been used for decades, does that make it right. You don’t see the true issue, for decades those that were disenfranchised had no voice, they were not considered. How the GOP agenda remove those that see them for what they are, is the true issue; one that they do not want to be exposed.

      • You may want to re-red my post. I did not endorse re-districting, I simply said it is nothing new. For the record, I think the way re-districting is donw is shameful inasmuch as it is, indeed, done to disenfranchise minorities and as part of a strategy to win elections.
        For that matter, I would eliminate the archaic and elitist Electoral College as well, but that is another topic for another day.

  • Help, we need help in Florida.

  • Same in WI. Redistricting and voter ID laws to disrupt voting security, and of course under a republican governor. The justification that it has been done for a long time is irrevalent at best. Right wing conservative distraction. Right wing illogic prevails.

  • desertdustoff

    Texas…I used to believe that if nothing else, texas was at least a good place to be from. In light of this info and because of texas’ execution rate (more than all the states total),I would be embarrassed to say I was ever from this bigoted hell hole. How far are these repugnicans willing to go? If this isn’t tea baggin’ (kkk) bigotry I don’t know what you would call it. And these people claim to be fun dumb a mentalist christians? WOW…what is happening to this country?

    • onedonewong

      Looks like your the only one Texas is grwoing and the lft wing nuts states CA and NY and MA aren’t

      • desertdustoff

        onedonewrong…what? What is grwoing…and what the hell does the rest of your message say? No use commenting if people don’t know what you are talking about. Try proofreading…

        • Proofreading would require the ability to read, and its clear “onedonewong” can’t read. I’ll even bet they meant their name to be “onedonewRong” but they couldn’t find the R on the keyboard.

    • desertdust off tell them againthey quit thinking 4 years ago. keep writing, yea.

    • how is requiring people to show photo id bigoted?

      • AlphaPlus

        Read the article above instead of asking stupid questions: it’s clearly laid out that Republicans in Texas (and Republican controlled states all over the USA) are acting in a concerted effort to “invoke the specter of voter fraud as a pretext for racial discrimination.” The answer to your question is laid out plainly above, and yet you still dumbfoundedly ask this question, displaying that you are either too ignorant to follow the judges rulings cited in the article, or too stubborn to let go when your pathetic ruse has obviosuly been revealed for the disgraceful voter suppression tactic it really is. The Republican strategists and lawmakers who have implemented these laws know full well that minority groups are less likely to have photo ID, more likely to vote Democratic (they admit as much, claiming partisan rather than racial motive), and they all know full well that voter fraud is not an exitsing problem, so why else this sudden nationwide push for voter ID to fix a non-existent problem? Why else wait until right before an upcoming election with an African American in the presidential race to push for such laws? Are you really that stupid, or do you really believe we are all that stupid?

  • White old men are desperate to maintain control of the government and afraid of the minorities voting block. This is not 1955.

  • Two

    The same thing happened in Alaska. I didn’t know it was legal to redraw districts to aid one party and hurt the other, but that explains why a group is suing because of discrimination of the Natives, not because of the very obvious gerrymandering. The leader of the Alaskan Republican Party said on a TV news interview that it was their intention to aid the Republicans and I was flabbbergasted. But, I guess it is legal afterall. I live 7 miles from Wasilla and now my state senator is in Fairbanks, 250 miles away. Does that sound right to you? Separating Democrats from their representatives, that’s what it is.

  • 1TexasHoney27

    Wow! I suppose at this particular point in time I’m somewhat ashamed that this could happen in my Great State of Texas but, nowadays nothing much surprises ya. I realize it happens elsewhere but in your own back yard hurts a little more.. ( if in fact this is true ) Given the fact this is a Republi-prick run state it does stand to reason… What I find ironic is that ” DESERTDUSTOFF ” felt the need to once again throw the KKK into the mix… Being raised by a father of a Staunch KKK member I can concur that the KKK is capable of many things but for the love of God they’re not the only white group in the nation.. The country is infiltrated with many racial groups such as Arryan Brotherhood, MS 13, Black Panthers etc… Each race is represented yet all one mainly hears about is the KKK… I loved my father dearly but never got behind his ” white is always right ” mentality… Racism will never die if Everytime n everything that happens in this countrypeople label it as a racial incident… In the Bible it states ” What goes on in the dark shall come to light ” just as this redistricting issue… Hopefully this is just a new beginning on this issue n with Respect I say in the words of the elderly black folk ” A change is gonna come “. After the awesome speech given to the nation last night by President Obama we all know it’s getting better daily… All that’s needed is hard work, perseverance, n walking together this shall be done… OBAMA/BIDEN 2012 MOBAMA! MOBAMA! MOBAMA! THE MAN WITH THE REAL PLAN FOR EVERYONE!

    • onedonewong

      Yet no indignation that a US Senator Al Franenstein was elected by illegal voters

      • 1TexasHoney27

        Exactly…… No any one group is to blame for the wrong doings within this wonderful country. We all want what we feel is right . I agree it isn’t fair that an illegal casts a vote, nor dead peopl, nor some that vote more than once. I also do not agree with voter ID at this point in time. If this was a serious issue then why just before election time is it brought forth… It’s unfair to any citizen that can not afford it reguardless of race, sex, or religion. What Bush did in Florida having all those votes not counted over a shard wasn’t fair either but it Damn sure happened… Gov Perry (R) Texas when he cut the education fund in this state while living in a place charging the state several grand a month while his place was being repaired wasn’t fair… He was rarely there due to his big campaign… Again the taxpayers were stuck with the bill. As long as everyone continues to point a finger at his neighbor we will finally manage to shred the fabric that our fore fathers built this great country out of… I find it ironicalso that millions are spent by both parties at election time when we have people that have fallen on hard times thru no fault of their own living in shelters n under bridges yet the big boys keep buying favors… Party after Party after Party…. Makes one wonder with all that’s wrong with this country today are we being nieve to think it will ever be right again…. All I can say to that is in my opinion under ” Robbing Romney/ Lying Ryan we the middle class will drown in the cess that Bush left is in… OBAMA/BIDEN. 2012. GOD BLESS ALL!

        • onedonewong

          Why wait before the electrons?? you obviously haven’t been paying attention these laws were for the most part signed into place 2 years ago its taken that long for them to be implemented. Its unfair due to cost?? Barak and the dems just made it mandatory come Jan 1 2013 that SS stops mailing checks and you must have a bank account…guess what you need a drivers license to get one. This whole issue is just a canard because the Dems can’t rely on Acorn any more.
          You do realize that fraud is rampart. In MN as an example and its been on the web where an individual went into the elections dept and they would provide him Multiple absentee ballots for other people without an ID. Then we have had polling booths placed in black churches so they could vote after services BEFORE they were supposed to.
          In Florida it was Al Gore that threw out thousands of Vet absentee ballots die to no post mark from the military PO’s. In the areas that the Dems complained the most about ie butterfly ballot it was a dem election officials that designed it.
          Cut education funding??Hmm last I look Perry was a proponent for illegals to receive instate tuition even though everyone knew it would break the bank
          Fallen on hard times thru no fault of their own..OK that might be 2% of the population what about the other 13% on unemployment..they are just LAZY.
          W left Barak with 5.6% unemployment and an annual deficit of $200B. that’s when the never had a job Messiah went to work and destroyed this economy

      • There is no representative that was elected by illegal voters. Fraudulent voting is NOT a PROBLEM in the USA. Racism, selfishness and greed are!

        • onedonewong

          Sorry Joe Frankin was elected by Felons who submitted absentee ballots, they were solicited by ACORN.
          Just last month Romney was forced to ask the State of Virgina to issue a cease and desist order to a left wing nut group in DC who were sending out letters to the dead, illegals, prisoners, pets and grade school children with the voting absentee application attached.
          Dem’s can never win a race fairly it always has to be crooked.
          But no one has ever accused the Demorat party of having any morality or scruples

      • No proof of that! just a poor looser like the guy he ran against!

        • onedonewong

          No proof?? Obviously you didn’t even try

  • ellen_h

    Republicans try and move the goal posts when they know they have no chance to win fair and square. Of course they want to get rid of the laws imposed by the President on their friends, the bankers and wall street, how else can they continue to channel all the money and resources in this country into their own pockets at the expense of the other 99% of the population. What is troubling is that the poor and middle class in this country even give them the time of day, when it is plain they represent their own self interest and have no remorse about what they have already done to the people and the country. Not sure how this adds up to Christian values, couldn’t be further off the path. Wake up people, see through the tricksters and vote for President Obama in November.

  • Sidney18511

    When the republican party doesn’t offer any ideas to get people to vote for them, they have to stop the other guys supporters from voting.

  • Sidney18511

    Voter fraud is a federal crime punishable with jail time. If it was so prevalent you would find hundreds, maybe thousand of cases of convicted felons who committed fraud and were sent to prision. But…..when you google to check all the news outlets looking for these dastardly criminals, you find exactly none. But you will find a republican politician who was found guilty of election fraud.

  • how do these people cash their welfare checks with out a photo id?or apply for social services?