U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown has ruled that Galveston County violated the federal Voting Rights Act by splitting up Black and Latino communities to make white voters make up a larger percentage of the electorate in each precinct. The county’s map, drawn by the GOP, denies Black and Latino voters the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect a representative of their choice to the commissioners court. This case is one of several legal disputes across the country challenging the redrawing of voting maps after the 2020 Census.
The county has been ordered to redraw the map within the week, by October 20, and plaintiffs will have until October 27 to voice their objections. If the county fails to submit a new plan, Brown said he will force them to implement the map drawn by Anthony Fairfax, a redistricting expert retained by the Justice Department. A new map also needs to be adopted before November 11 for the upcoming 2024 presidential election.
Galveston County is predominately white and Republican, but it is also home to a large population of black and Latino voters who tend to lean Democratic. Brown wrote that the county’s leadership reflects the dynamic and that the candidate with the support of white voters is more likely to win an election under the redistricting map. Anglo voters in Galveston County vote cohesively for candidates opposing those supported by a majority of black and Latino voters.
During the bench trial, William Cooper, an NAACP expert witness with four decades of experience crafting voting maps, called the Galveston County case “a textbook example of racial gerrymandering.”