Panel to hear arguments over Texas' voting districts

A three-judge panel will begin hearing arguments Monday morning regarding the state's congressional maps, which were drawn after the 2010 census.

SAN ANTONIO – A three-judge panel will begin hearing arguments Monday about the state’s voting districts, and could rule the maps must be redrawn.

At issue are districts like the Texas 23rd, which stretches from the San Antonio suburbs to near El Paso, and the Texas 35th, which includes parts of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Comal and Bexar Counties. A panel ruled in March that Texas lawmakers knowingly discriminated against African-American and Hispanic voters when drawing the state’s congressional map.

Congressional maps are redrawn every 10 years after the census. States that see an increase in population could get a new district, while states that lose population or see slower population growth could see a district merged into surrounding ones. The Texas 35th was one of four districts created after the 2010 census, while Ohio and New York both lost two congressional districts.

If the challenge succeeds and the judges rule the voting map needs to be completely redrawn, many Texans could find themselves in new districts when during the 2018 primary and general elections.

The hearing is expected to last through the week, and the court is hoping to make a final ruling regarding the districts by Oct. 1.

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