DOJ files voting rights lawsuit against Galveston County to challenge its redistricting plan

GALVESTON, Texas – The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act against Galveston County in efforts to challenge the county’s redistricting plan.

According to a release, the plan was adopted by the county on Nov. 12 after data from the 2020 Census was released.

The lawsuit claims that the redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act because it discriminates against minority citizens, such as Black and Hispanic residents, by denying them an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and because the new map was adopted, in part with a discriminatory purpose. The complaint alleges that the county deliberately reconfigured the Commissioners Court’s sole, longstanding minority opportunity-to-elect district to eliminate Black and Hispanic voters’ opportunity to elect a representative of their choice. The complaint also alleges that over the course of the past three decades, Galveston County has on several occasions sought to diminish or eliminate electoral opportunities for the county’s Black and Hispanic voters.

“This action is the latest demonstration of the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the voting rights of all Americans, particularly during the current redistricting cycle,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our complaint alleges that Galveston County has violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by devising a redistricting plan that dismantles the only district in which Black and Hispanic voters had the opportunity to elect a candidate of choice to the county’s governing body. We will continue to use all available tools to challenge voting discrimination in our country.”

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas is committed to protecting the voting rights of all of our citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery for the Southern District of Texas. “We are pleased to join the Civil Rights Division in bringing this important lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act.”

“The United States Department of Justice does not normally bring Voting Rights lawsuits against a jurisdiction as small as Galveston County,” said Galveston County Commissioner Stephen Holmes. “The fact that they have chosen to do so speaks to the level of the discriminatory harm done to our minority community by the map adopted by the Galveston County Commissioners Court.”

The United States’ complaint asks the court to prohibit Galveston County from conducting elections under the challenged plan and to order Galveston County to devise and implement a new redistricting plan that complies with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

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