Redistricting could give Latinos more political clout

HOUSTON The Hispanic population has grown here in Houston and across the state over the last decade, but many are not voting or are even registered. And with re-districting just next year, there's a push to get people ready.

Redistricting in Texas could give Latinos a degree of political clout they never seen before. Hispanics continue to be the fastest growing segment of our population. The problem is that so many of them are not registered to vote.

Pedro Cruz is among the nearly quarter million Latinos in Texas who are eligible to vote but not registered.

"If the Latino population is bigger, maybe we'll have more representation in the government," said Cruz.

That's what Hispanic state lawmakers and minority groups are hoping. They're determined to educate Cruz and others like him how the state's growing Hispanic population could have more political clout by participating in the political process. It's grown over 50 percent in the last decade.

"Our region is becoming more minority, our state is becoming more minority and the political process and political representation ought to reflect the diversity of our community," said Professor Carroll Robinson of Texas Southern University.

Next year, the latest census numbers will be used to draw new school, Congressional and legislative districts which will impact elections for the next 10 years. Texas is poised to add up to four Congressional seats once the lines are re-drawn. State Representative Carol Alvarado wants people to know what's at stake, not only for Houston, but the entire state.

"That means our presence in Washington is bigger, our delegation is larger and maybe we can help protect some of our most valued things in Texas," said Rep. Alvarado.

Today, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce sponsored a town hall meeting to persuade Hispanics and minorities in Houston who've been undercounted for years to take action, get involved and dispel any myths.

"The notion is that so many Hispanics don't want to go out there and vote because they feel that they are in some way going to be penalized because they may or may not be from this country," said student Jennifer Rodriguez.

Cruz knows it's important; now it's just a matter of getting involved.

Today's town hall meeting will be followed by a redistricting seminar on November 20. Members of both the Texas House and Senate will be attending.

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