US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the lawsuit on Monday, alleging that Texas is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting measures that discriminate based on race.
According to DOJ officials, recent redistricting in Texas has the effect of restricting ballot access to minority communities.
The redistricting “refused to recognize the state’s growing minority electorate,” according to the department, and does not give equal representation to “black and Latino” voters.
Some districts, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said during Monday’s announcement, were “drawn with discriminatory intent” – something she and Garland say they are confidant they can prove in court. Gupta specifically pointed to voting maps being drawn in such a way that they deny communities with majority-minority populations from electing their own representatives and significantly impacting congressional races.
The population of Texas grew by four million people from 2010 to 2020, officials argued, with much of this increase coming from “minority populations,” whose “voting strength” is “diluted” by the state’s 2021 redistricting plans.
Texas’ attorney general’s office responded to the lawsuit by saying redistricting approved by state officials was “lawful” and deemed the DOJ’s legal action as “the Biden Administration’s latest ploy to control Texas voters.”
The DOJ lawsuit is the latest effort by the current administration to target new state-enacted voting laws, many of which they argue are restricting voting access. The department even previously filed a separate lawsuit against Texas over a voting bill aimed at reducing fraud, though officials similarly argue the measures in the bill unfairly target minority voters.
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