The San Antonio panel this morning enjoined provisions of the Texas Election Code requiring counties to redraw precinct boundaries by October 1 and to issue new voter registration certificates to voters by December 6.
The panel also enjoined implementation of Texas’ new state house and congressional maps on the grounds that the maps have yet to receive pre-clearance under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
No word in the panel’s order, however, about drawing temporary maps for use in the 2012 election cycle.
Here’s the court’s order:
Because the redistricting plans for the Texas House of Representatives (Plan H283) and the United States House of Representatives (Plan Cl 85) have not been precleared pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the plans may not be implemented. According to the Texas Election Code, any changes that must be made in the county election precinct boundaries “to give effect to a redistricting plan” must be finalized by October 1, 2011. Tex. Elec. Code Ann. Section 42.032 (Vernon 2010). Because the redistricting plans have not been precleared pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, all persons or entities that would otherwise have a duty under Section 42.032 of the Texas Election Code are relieved of those duties until further order of the Court. Likewise, Section 14.001 of the Election Code requires that voter registration certificates be issued to each voter in the county. Because the county election precinct boundaries will not be fmalized, the persons or entities that would otherwise have a duty to issue such registration certificates are relieved of those duties until further order of the Court.
The parties have agreed that the relief granted herein will be effective as a permanent injunction, subject to being lifted by order of the Court as appropriate.
A similar order was issued for State Senate districts, in response to Sen. Wendy Davis’ recent lawsuit; that one will get underway November 3 with an expedited schedule. My non-lawyer’s reading of this is basically that all of the existing districts and precincts are in place until the San Antonio court says otherwise, which I presume won’t happen until after the DC court weighs in. Since we have to add four Congressional districts one way or another, either the maps get precleared or the judges – possibly in both locations – will get busy with their cartography software. And remember, candidate filing begins November 14. Isn’t this fun? A statement from Sen. Davis is here, Texas Redistricting has a useful timeline, and Postcards has more.