DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The U.S. Supreme Court may have put state redistricting plans on hold, but Dallas County residents are a big step closer to being able to vote in a primary election in 2012, at least for county offices such as commissioner or Justice of the Peace.
On Monday the Dallas County Commissioners Court approved a county-wide redistricting plan, with one vocal opponent. “They are not being allowed to vote for their commissioner,” says Maurine Dickey, who claims the shift in district lines will mean some people who voted in 2008 will not get a chance to vote for a commissioner in 2012.
Though not running for re-election, some of Dickey’s voters from District 1 in 2008 have been redrawn into District 2, and will inherit the sitting commissioner, who is not up for re-election next year. They won’t get to vote for commissioner until 2014.
The new map is a separate issue from the temporary hold the Supreme Court has put on statwide races. “So it’s really up in the air right now and what we’ve done is add confusion on top of confusion,” said Dickey.
But county judge Clay Jenkins says this was all necessary and by-the-books. “I’m proud that Dallas County’s (map) was pre-cleared without any fanfare or lawsuits,” he said after Monday’s vote.
Jenkins says the local primaries can go on whatever the High Court does. “Now if the Supreme Court tells us they’re going to be somewhat different we’ll amend to comply with that court order later, but out deadline was today and we passed our maps,” he claims.
“It’s hard to take politics out of a political process, and redistricting is a political process,” says Political analyst John Weekley, who points out the new map puts a much larger land mass into District-3, where there will be competition in the primary. Overall, Weekley feels it has problems. “Unfortunately this map, especially in Lake Highlands, splits neighborhoods right in two and you don’t have the communities of interest that you’re supposed to according to Supreme Court guidelines on redistricting.”
Assuming the redistricting stays as is, it will remain in place through the 2020 elections, a big boost for Democrats, especially as the voter balance-of-power has shifted towards Democrat in recent Dallas County elections.