Saturday, October 23, 2021

Gerrymandering in Texas

On Monday the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a lawsuit against the redistricting plans of the Texas Legislature. One of the main reasons for the lawsuit is that the new maps are a clear attempt by the Republican Party to dilute the voting rights of Latinos in Texas. 

The map above shows the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature's proposal for TX-33, a congressional district in the city of Dallas.In Explaining the Most Bizarrely Shaped Districts in Texas’s Proposed Congressional Map the Texas Monthly explains the incredibly gerrymandered proposal for TX-33 very simply as an attempt to "pack non-Anglo voters into one district". The bizarre shape of TX-33 is a blatant attempt to pack possible Democrat voters all into the one district, in the process making marginal neighboring Republican districts much less marginal.It is an attempt at vote packing which can be seen all over Texas' proposed new political map.

One way to detect where the Texas Legislature is attempting to gerrymander a congressional district might be to compare the percentage change in the area of a new proposed congressional district map with the district's current boundaries. This is just one of the comparisons you can make with Mike Freeman's interactive map visualization in Texas Congressional Redistricting Is More Extensive Than Most Maps Reveal.

Mike's small multiples map visualization overlays each proposed congressional district's map on top its current existing map. This allows the user to make a direct visual comparison of how much the Texas Legislature is attempting to change a district's boundaries. It is possible to order the districts in the visualization by the area percentage change and by the percentage growth in area to quickly see which congressional districts' maps are being changed by the greatest extent (and most possibly being gerrymandered to reduce the voting rights of likely Democrat voters). 

In How Texas Plans to Make its House Districts Even Redder the New York Times has published an interactive map which shows the boundaries of all the proposed congressional districts in Texas and also visualizes the 2020 Presidential vote margin in each precinct. By overlaying the vote margin on top of the proposed new electoral districts the NYT clearly shows how the Republican Party is trying to pack Democrat voters into as few districts as it possibly can. 

The result is a political map which will contain some of the most bizarrely shaped electoral districts that Texas has ever seen.

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