Common Ground for Texans hosted a community conversation on Sept 6, 2014 titled “Should Austin’s redistricting plan be duplicated in other Texas cities?” Craig Tounget, the former Executive Director of the Austin Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, participated on our panel. After the 2020 census, districts will be redrawn. Who should be in charge, citizens or politicians? Now, Mr. Tounget is moving forward with his state-wide initiative, Texas Citizens Redistricting Initiative, to make sure that voters choose their elected officials rather than politicians choosing their voters.
Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) continues to submit legislation calling for a Texas (bipartisan) Redistricting Commission (HJR 32) consisting of seven members:
- one member appointed by the member of the Texas Senate with the most seniority
- one member appointed by the member of the Texas Senate with the most seniority who is of a different political party than the member described under (1)
- one member appointed by the member of the Texas House with the most seniority
- one member appointed by the member of the Texas House with the most seniority who is of a different political party than the member described under (3)
- one member appointed by an affirmative vote of note fewer than three of the commissioners selected under (1-4) above.
- two members appointed by the member appointed under (5), who must be retired federal judges appointed to the federal bench by presidents of different political parties.
Although this joint resolution (HJR 32) does not call for a citizens’ independent redistricting commission, it is one step closer to reaching that goal.
Wikipedia, the modern day encyclopedia, has a listing of the 13 states that use either bi-partisan or non-partisan redistricting commissions to exclusively draw electoral district lines. Questions have been asked whether a redistricting commission process independent of the state legislature is constitutional. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission decided that in the affirmative.
Texas is conspicuously absent from this table. Shouldn’t we help make this a reality?