The Voting Rights Act was enacted to make “the promise of the right to vote under the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution a reality, ninety-five years after [its] passage”. Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, sixteen states are required to submit any redistricting plans to the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance. Preclearance is defined as the process of seeking U.S. Department of Justice approval for all changes related to voting. Section 5 of the Act requires that the United States Department of Justice or a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for District of Columbia “preclear” any attempt to change “any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting…” in any “covered jurisdiction”.
In a sort of legislative miracle, Texas lawmakers actually finished their redistricting work this year, drawing new political maps for Congress, the Texas House and Senate, and for the State Board of Education. But the fight is just starting, and could last beyond next year’s elections.
Nobody, including a fair number of lawmakers, thought the legislative part would be that easy. It helped to have a Republican supermajority. Still, the five-member state board that draws maps when lawmakers fail — the lieutenant governor, the House speaker, the attorney general, the comptroller and the land commissioner — was all ready to go. But the Legislature left them nothing to do.
Illinois and Texas have taken center stage in a redistricting battle that could have significant ramifications for the future makeup of Congress. Republicans accuse Democrats of gerrymandering in Illinois, a Democratically controlled state where the GOP stands to lose as many as six House seats in the redistricting process.
Redistricting, so the old saying goes, is when politicians get to choose their voters. Every ten years, following the national census, each state must redraw the constituency boundaries for both its members of Congress and its state legislators. In most states, the party in power controls both those processes...
We’re through the first big week of congressional redistricting, and everything has more or less gone according to plan. In Indiana and Louisiana, Republicans did their best to push Reps. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Jeff Landry (R-La.) out, while a commission in Iowa did what commissions do and overhauled the map to a significant degree.