Voter ID and redistricting loom large

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, District 31, Election 2010, Elections, Redistricting at 12:51 pm by wcnews

That’s the understatement of the decade, Ha Ha!! But there is some news on the issues of Voter ID and redistricting, which of course, loom large over the upcoming election and the next legislative session. First, this week an Indiana Court of Appeals struck down their states voter ID law, via Half Empty, Indiana Voter ID Law Struck Down . . . For Now.

Here in Texas we have been watching as Indiana wrestles with its Voter ID law, which up until today was the law of the land in the Hoosier State. Up until today, voters in Indiana were made to provide some evidence that they were citizens of the United States and residents of Indiana.

Today an Indiana Court of Appeals struck down the Indiana law.


We in Texas are watching this because every time we have had a legislature working the past few sessions Republicans have attempted to force through a Voter ID bill of their own. In 2007 it passed in the State House and failed in the State Senate by one vote cast from a hospital bed occupied by Senator [Mario Gallegos]. A hospital bed wheeled into the Senate chamber for just such a purpose. In the legislative session just ended in late May, the Senate passed a rule allowing a less than 60% vote in order to bring a single bill to the Senate floor – that bill being the Voter ID bill. However, with near parity in the House this past year, it was the Democratic state reps with a thin margin of Republicans that blocked this heinous bill from passage.

So when a Voter ID bill comes under judicial review, we take notice.

And I think Hal’s spot on when the states at the end of this post that ultimately “[i]t’s about who is in power”. It’s extremely likely that Voter ID will be on the agenda next session as well, that is, as long as the GOP still controls both chambers and the executive branch. If Democrats take back the house, or win the governor’s race, then it’s unlikely a Voter ID bill will have a chance of becoming law.

The other news were these comments from state Sen. Kip Averitt (R-Waco), on both topics, With redistricting fight looming, Waco State Sen. Averitt wants to avoid rehashing voter ID.

With what promises to be a politically charged debate over redistricting facing the Texas Legislature in the 2011 session, state Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, expressed little interest Thursday in rehashing this year’s hot-button issue — a bill requiring Texans to show ID before casting ballots.

After a town hall meeting at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, Averitt said the voter ID legislation, which failed in the past session, would likely come up again in 2011.

“But whether or not we fuss over it, I don’t know yet, because we’re going to fuss over redistricting. That’s enough,” he said. [Emphasis added].

State Sen. Kip Averitt says his top priority for 2011 is to focus on redistricting. (Jerry Larson photo, file)

In his speech to a crowd of about 50, Averitt called redistricting “the only purely partisan thing that we do.”

By “fuss” it’s likely he means, whether or not the GOP controlled State Senate, and a GOP Lt. Gov., will again change decades of precedent in that chamber to pass voter suppression legislation.

Averitt then discusses how he would like to redraw Congressional districts in his area. More specifically how he’d like to carve up the current Congressional districts of TX-17 (Chet Edwards) and TX-31 (John Carter).

Averitt said because of cultural and economic similarities, he wants to see McLennan, Coryell and Bell counties put in the same congressional district.

McLennan County is now in a district represented by Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, that stretches from the southern part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to the Bryan- College Station area, while neighboring Bell and Coryell counties are represented by Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock.

Edwards, who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee in charge of military construction, had represented Coryell and Bell county communities surrounding Fort Hood, where he drew strong support. When Republican legislators redrew districts in 2003, they targeted Edwards for defeat by splitting off those two counties and the Army base from McLennan County, where Edwards lives.

The two county’s he mentions in TX-31 went for Carter by significant majorities in 2008 - Bell 57% and Coryell 65%. It’s not likely Carter would want to lose those two counties from his district, especially as Williamson County continues trending Democratic.

Both parties in Texas have a tremendous stake in both of these issues. The GOP in Texas, seeing it’s hold on power slipping, wants to use these issue to limit supress voter turnot of minorities and the elderly (Voter ID), and protect their partisan advantage through gerrymandering (redistricting), in order to keep there hold on power.

It’s likely Averitt’s aim of bringing together a culturally and economically similar area is just that, and not a partisan political agenda. But as long as it’s still “the only purely partisan thing that [they] do”, as Averitt says, we can’t be sure. Generally speaking redistricting, IMHO, is about two things: Protecting incumbents - ensuring reelection to their current office or a higher office; and protecting the party in power’s majority. Whether and how the legislature resolves these two issues next session depends on the partisan make up of our state’s government after the 2010 election. And that’s why this upcoming “mid-term” election is so very important.

1 Comment »

  1. RobinGTown said,

    September 18, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    I have a thought. Maybe it’s not much of one but it’s a thought. I will cost us Democrats about $50K but it would be worth it.

    Let’s buy Congressman Carter a nice mobile home in eastern Bell County. He’ll be happier with his neighbors and his neighbors will be happier with him. Then let’s push hard for Bell County to be severed from District 31.

    Maybe two mobile homes, the second one for Rister and Rister.

    Alternatively, let’s move the country line north of Round Rock….

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