This op-ed piece appeared in The El Paso Times on Sunday, December 9th. It is written by El Paso Social Justice team member, Kathy Staudt.
“In Texas, voting districts often take strange shapes, deliberately designed to reduce choice for voters and therefore accountability to citizens. Often called “gerrymandering,” (a word derived from salamander), this process refers to how the majority in power draws political district boundaries to strengthen their party, to create safe districts for incumbents to be re-elected, and to reinforce racial and ethnic segregation. Gerrymandering is a national problem that hurts everyone, especially Latinxs and African Americans.
In the 2016 general elections in Texas, some stark figures show the extent of this manipulation. In two-thirds of the state legislative seats, the candidate ran unopposed. Ninety-seven percent of incumbent politicians easily won re-election in gerrymandered districts. Warped district shapes exaggerate the partisan representative majority and under-represent the voter majority. Consider the disregard for voters' preferences in figures on US Congressional seats in 2016: the “reds” cast 56% of the votes but achieved 70% of the districts!” Continue Reading