Lawsuit could be next in fight against redrawn Galveston Co. precinct lines

Tom Abrahams Image
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Texas redistricting fight shines light on Galveston Co.'s redrawn map
The county's GOP-majority commissioners' court OK'd a change to precinct lines, but at a cost that critics say disenfranchise voters of color.

LEAGUE CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- The Department of Justice's lawsuit against Texas has renewed calls for action in Galveston County, where three weeks ago, commissioners there drew new precinct lines which critics say disenfranchise minority voters.

Dozens signed up to speak and have their voices heard in opposition of the map, which some folks say would take away any minority representation on the five-member commission.

SEE RELATED STORY: DOJ sues Texas over redistricting, saying the new maps discriminate

Stephen Holmes has been the Galveston County Precinct 3 commissioner since 1999. Holmes was the lone dissenting vote.

"We are not going to go quietly in the night," he said at the meeting. "We are going to rage, rage, rage."

On Tuesday, he spoke with ABC13.

"It was a discriminatory map that was passed," he said. "It's going to dilute the votes of the voters of Precinct 3. It was not fair or proper for the court to take that vote."

Holmes also said a lawsuit is likely inevitable.

"It could be filed by a resident of Galveston County," Holmes said. "It could be filed by the Justice Department itself. You saw what they filed against the state of Texas yesterday. The same thing could happen to us here in Galveston County."

ABC13 asked Galveston County Judge Mark Henry for a comment, but he was unavailable. So were the other two commissioners who voted in favor of the new map. One of them told us he would speak, but after the DOJ's lawsuit against Texas and its map, counsel suggested they not comment.

The county's map is not entirely unlike what Harris County Democrats, who hold the majority of seats on commissioners court, did with its new map by limiting Republican influence in future elections.

Republicans have sued, contending the maps changed the election cycles and prevents voters in some precincts from casting ballots while those in others get to vote twice. The party in power almost always seeks to strengthen it. The question will be whether or not new maps, no matter where they are, adhere to the Voting Rights Act.

Edna Courville, a Galveston County resident since 1964, believes the new map is illegal. She spoke at the meeting on Nov. 12.

"They didn't hear us. They didn't hear me. They didn't hear anybody," Courville said. "I am paying the judge and his people to stab me in my back "

Tierrishia Gibson is the chair of the Galveston County Democrats.

"It's to the point where the politicians are picking the voters, not the voters picking the politicians," Gibson said. "We're not going to stop until we win this."

There is no lawsuit yet, but the approved map is in place.

For updates on this story, follow Tom Abrahams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.