Washington (AFP) – The US Justice Department sued Texas on Monday, accusing the Republican-led state of discriminating against Black and Latino voters with its redrawn electoral maps.
Merrick Garland, Democratic President Joe Biden’s attorney general, said Texas’s redistricting plans for congressional and state legislative districts violate the Voting Rights Act.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, speaking at a press conference with Garland, said several of the electoral districts were “drawn with discriminatory intent.”
“The redistricting plans approved by the Texas state legislature and signed into law by the governor will deny Black and Latino voters an equal opportunity to participate in the voting process and to elect representatives of their choice,” Gupta said.
In its complaint filed in a US District Court in Texas, the Justice Department said it was “not the first time Texas has acted to minimize the voting rights of its minority citizens.”
“Decade after decade, Texas has enacted redistricting plans that violate the Voting Rights Act,” it said.
Gupta said the population of Texas grew by four million people between 2010 and 2020 and 95 percent of that growth came from minority populations.
“Texas will gain two new congressional seats because of its population growth, almost all of which is due to growth in the state’s minority population,” she said. “However, Texas has designed both of those new seats to have white voting majorities.”
Electoral maps in the 50 US states are redrawn after a national census and the party in power has been known to conduct redistricting to its political advantage.
The Justice Department is seeking to prevent Texas from using the redrawn maps in upcoming elections and force it to come up with new ones.
The United States is to hold mid-term elections for Congress in 2022 and a presidential vote in 2024.
The Justice Department filed suit against Texas last month over a new law which the administration said would disenfranchise voters with disabilities or with language difficulties.
In June, the Justice Department sued the southern state of Georgia, accusing it of seeking to restrict the voting access of African-Americans.
A number of Republican-led states have carried out electoral reforms which they claim are needed to combat voter fraud.
Democrats say the real objective is to make it more difficult for minorities — who tend to lean Democratic — to vote.