What to know about Texas' election map as primary polls open

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- This is the first election cycle since the passage of Senate Bill 1, which altered several key elements regarding voting and the first under the newly redrawn election map for Texas.

In northeast Houston, a group of activists from across the country rolled onto the campus of Houston Community College. Their statewide tour has four stops in Houston before heading west. The group's goal is to engage young voters.

"We are still in the midst of a crisis of voter suppression all across the country," said Black Voters Matter National Field Director Wanda Mosley. "We want to make sure that people have the correct information, the updated information, so that they can have access to the ballot and we are also still in the fight for voting rights."

Part of that fight refers to the litigation against Texas' newly drawn election map. This is a product of the Republican controlled state legislature. Democrat Lizzie Fletcher represents the 7th congressional district, a district altered significantly in the new map.

"The most useful thing for all of us in a Democracy is to have elections where our voices matter and to have competitive races where people are really talking to all of the voters and telling them why they are the best representative," Rep. Fletcher said. "What we've seen the legislature do is really overreaching and creating problems where they didn't exist and making it more difficult for people to participate. And so when I talk to people in my district and across the country, they are very concerned about voting rights "

Michael O. Adams, a political science professor at Texas Southern University, told ABC13 that despite an increase in the population of minorities in Texas, their representation has shrunk. This is mainly due to a change in the Voting Rights Act which no longer requires federal or court pre-approval of voting map.

"We used to labor under the assumption of one party one vote. Now we're here under one person no vote," Adams said. "You have to look at the history in terms of Texas, in terms of the redistricting process. All of the maps have usually been drawn by federal district courts because the legislature could not take it upon themselves to draw what we call fair maps. "

ABC political director Rick Klein said the realignment, which consolidates power district to district, also has the ability to push parties to extremes and diminishes individual voices.

"The story of redistricting in 2022 has been that both parties are pressing whatever advantage they may have," Klein said. "The good side for voters is that you're more likely to have a member of Congress who votes and thinks like you do. The bad side for voters is if you don't agree with who your representative is, you probably don't have any recourse to do anything about it. It's almost impossible for the opposite party to break through "

Texas' map is in litigation. It could face court scrutiny and ultimately be changed, but that likely takes at least another cycle to happen and so the map is what it is for now.

"I think it's so important for democracy for everyone to know and to understand that their voice matters and feel like they can make a difference with their vote," Rep. Fletcher said.

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