Scholars use math to re-draw district maps, address racial gerrymandering

CBS Austin

A University of Texas workshop on gerrymandering and changing Texas’ voting lines hopes to make elections more fair. The conference wrapped up on Sunday.

Current district lines will stick for this year’s elections, but the fight is far from over.

Gerrymandering is the practice of creating districts in a way that favors voters from a specific political party or demographic. People attending the gerrymandering workshop at UT used math to draw new lines.

"Redistricting in Texas has been a giant mess for many decades,” said Mimi Marziani, Pres. Of Texas Civil Rights Project. "Texas has been embroiled in litigation about 2011 maps this entire decade and still today."

The Texas Democratic Party has been fighting to re-draw district maps for nearly a decade, claiming that current maps were intentionally drawn to discriminate against minority voters.

"We can then demand that district lines are drawn in a way that is equitable for all communities, but particularly those communities that have historically been disenfranchised,” Marziani said.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Texas Democrats, claiming that the Republican-controlled legislature illegally gerrymandered the maps. The high court said it lacked the jurisdiction to consider the complaint.

"Texas citizens should be demanding that our lawmakers are transparent about the process that they're open and it's not being done behind closed doors using illicit considerations of race and political game playing as the main motivation,” Marziani said.

Texas’ case largely focused on racial gerrymandering, but the Supreme Court could hear others later this year on partisan gerrymandering. Any decision would have wide-reaching effects.

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