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DOJ denies Galveston County redistricting

Just a reminder that there’s more to redistricting than the state level.

The U.S. Department of Justice late Monday rejected Galveston County’s proposed redistricting maps for county commissioner precincts, justices of the peace and constables.

The rejection could put at risk the county’s ability to hold county commissioner elections by the May 29 primary date.

“Based on the analysis of the evidence, we have concluded that the county has not met its burden in showing that the proposed (county commissioner precinct) plan was adopted with no discriminatory purpose,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, of the justice department’s civil rights division, wrote in a five-page letter.

The justice department found fault with the county’s redistricting process. The process did not set out clear criteria to follow, redrew a commissioners precinct map that put the Bolivar Peninsula into the traditionally minority Precinct 3 and minority representation of voters took a step back under the county’s plan.

The justice department also found fault with the county’s desire to reduce the number of justice of the peace and constable precincts from eight to five.

In doing so, the justice department said, the county reduced the number of precincts where “minority voters possess the ability to elect candidates of choice” from three to just one.

It called the move “retrogression,” and the county could not prove its actions “were not motivated by a discriminatory intent.”

The redistricting plan had previously been blocked by a federal court judge since it hadn’t been precleared yet. No one is quite sure what happens next, but as the Chron notes, the filing deadline for county races will likely be pushed back. Isn’t this fun? Greg has more.

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