Redistricting in Texas: How it affects who you vote for
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - During last year’s legislative session, the state’s political districts were redrawn. This year’s election is the first one since the new boundaries were changed and could mean you are voting in a new district.
“The majority party does the redistricting and the idea is, you know, you are going to help yourself if you have that opportunity,” Dr. Steve Garrison, a political science professor at MSU Texas, said.
Dr. Garrison adds the redistricting process works in the interest of the political party holding the majority. In Texas, this is the Republican Party.
“It’s purely political but it also has negative because the one input that we have as far as government goes is what the voter’s will and wishes are, and if they are not able to select people that effectively represent those wishes, you get a government that is taking that input and acting on something that may not be representative of what the people are actually looking for,” Dr. Garrison said.
In some instances, entire counties now fall under new representation. In the state Senate, Wichita County is now split between the 28th and 30th Districts. The line splitting representation between Drew Springer and Charles Perry cuts Wichita Falls in two. This is a decision Dr. garrison said could be considered gerrymandering.
“I assume that is what’s going on, they are just trying to minimize the larger population of Wichita Falls and split it between two locations, but yes,” Dr. Garrison said.
Dr. Garrison adds that not being familiar with a new representative could negatively affect voter turnout.
Thankfully there are many ways to stay informed about these changes, one being a page on the Texas Tribune that shows you how the districts have shifted and who you will be voting for.
Below are a few helpful links from the State of Texas:
Another valuable resource is the voter’s guide produced by the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan nonprofit that encourages informed and active participation in government.
The guide for Wichita County will be distributed to various businesses and libraries before early voting begins.
Election info is also accessible online at vote411.org
Sample ballots and early voting locations are available on the Wichita County website.
“You can look and see what your ballot is so you will know exactly what candidates you are going to be voting for,” Kaye Holland, with the League said.
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