Inside a packed room earlier this month, Galveston County residents gathered to speak in opposition to proposed new precinct maps.
“I’m neither Democrat nor Republican,” said Hannah Melcer. “What I do know, as a woman born in the south and raised in the south, is that this map, both of them, are racist, and you know it.”
Galveston County Precinct 3 commissioner Stephen Holmes, who has held the position since 1999, says the map approved by the Republican majority commission is discriminatory.
Holmes said the redrawn lines dismantle his largely Black and Latino precinct.
“The map seriously reduces the impact and the power that Black and Hispanic [people] have in voting here in Galveston County,” he told KPRC 2.
In Fort Bend County, another Precinct 3 commissioner says he’s in danger of losing his position after the Democratic majority approved a map that shifts his Katy-based precinct to Sugar Land and Missouri City.
“I’m a seven-term incumbent that they have redistricted out of office. I’m not going to win a 56 -57% Democrat precinct as a Republican,” Meyers told KPRC 2. “I don’t like the fact that, you know, I’m basically will be out of office. But, elections have consequences and the Democrats won.”
Fort Bend County Judge KP George says the changes were necessary and based on census data.
“It is a true reflection of our county’s population, I honestly believe this is a very fairly drawn map,” George said.
Political analysts believe any legal challenges will depend on the courts’ ability to define and separate purely partisan maps from those that disenfranchise voters based on race.
“If there’s an egregious case of racial gerrymandering, then I think that violates the principle the fundamental principle of redistricting and certainly they will have standing to sue in court,”said Dr. Michael Adams, political science professor at Texas Southern University.