Posted on August 29, 2010 at 10:38 PM
Monday, Aug 30 at 10:29 AM
Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay's money laundering trial will go forward here in Travis County. Delay's attorneys argued he could not get a fair trial in Travis County because of lingering controversy over the 2003 Congressional redistricting plan engineered by Delay.
Now technology is making redistricting in Texas even more political.
In 2001, Travis County was split almost evenly between two Congressional districts.
Delay's 2003 re-districting plan, carved up the county, shifting Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett to a district which stretched from southeast Travis County all the way to the Mexican border.
A 2006 redistricting settlement struck down the Doggett district, but led to the current swirl of jagged districts.
Former Travis County State Representative Sherri Greenberg was involved in re-drawing Congressional lines back in the early ‘90s. Since then, she explained, the Texas Legislative Council has made volumes of information available to state lawmakers through software called "Red Apple."
“With this technology has come the ability to gerrymander districts at a level that we have never seen before," Greenberg said.
"Red Apple" is loaded with extremely detailed demographic information, compiled from the Census Bureau and from voting records.
The computer software enables legislators to draft districts and get an immediate breakdown of past voting patterns.
“When people are drawing these districts, they can go down to the house, the block, and it's all computerized now," Greenberg said. “You can look by name, by address, by gender if somebody has voted in a primary."
The Texas Legislature will take up redistricting again in 2011.