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Do New State Voting Maps Diminish Minority Power?

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Federal hearings will get underway on Tuesday to determine if Texas lawmakers violated the Voting Rights Act when they redrew political maps. Some people believe that the new maps diminish the voting power of minorities voting for the State House, State Senate or U.S. congressional seats.

Both LULAC and the NAACP have criticized the legislature’s redistricting maps, claiming that they favor Republican politicians and dilute minority voting strength. The two groups argue that Latinos account for most of the state’s population growth, but they did not gain any additional seats at the state or congressional level.

In a hearing before a Washington D.C. court, the Texas Deputy Attorney General argued that the state did not intend to discriminate when it drew the new political lines.

The redistricting battle affects State Senator Wendy Davis in Fort Worth. Her district was redrawn, but she wants the current boundaries to be reinstated.

The Supreme Court has also been locked into this issue, as justices are deciding whether or not the interim maps – drawn up by San Antonio judges – can be used during the Texas primary. This issue has already pushed the election back from March and into early April, to give voters more time to know who they will be on their ballots.

Texas is one of nine states with a history of political discrimination, requiring the Justice Department to approve changes to voting maps.

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