The Justice Department sued Galveston County, Texas over a redistricting plan that it alleges discriminates against Black and Hispanic voters, reports NBC BLK.
Justice Department lawyers accused officials in the GOP-dominated southeastern Texas county of deliberately making “drastic changes” to district lines to eliminate the sole district in which the county’s Black and Hispanic voters had an equal opportunity to elect preferred candidates.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for Southern Texas, alleges that the redistricting plan approved in November for the county’s governing body, known as the Commissioners Court, was “adopted, in part, for a discriminatory purpose.” It says the plan violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act’s provisions against discriminatory voting practices or procedures.
“The 2021 commissioners court redistricting plan will result in denying or abridging the right of Black and Hispanic voters in Galveston County to participate equally in the political process,” the Justice Department said in its lawsuit, which was first reported by CNN.
Galveston County Communications Director Zach Davidson declined to comment on the allegations, citing pending litigation. The lawsuit goes on to say the redistricting effort has “both the result and intent of diluting the voting strength of the County’s minority voters.”
Census data from 2020 show that the voting-age population of the county, which is on the Gulf Coast, is about 58 percent White, 22.5 percent Hispanic and 12.5 percent Black.
The Justice Department is asking the court to block Galveston County from using the challenged plan to conduct elections. It also calls on the court to order the county to devise and put in place a new redistricting plan.
The lawsuit marks the third time during the Biden administration that the Justice Department has sued in Texas over voting practices. Federal prosecutors also sued Georgia, its secretary of state and its State Elections Board in June over voting procedures.