In a sworn declaration, Texas State Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) said that his party violated federal voting laws in their redrawing of State Senate District 10.

Seliger signed the declaration in November. However, it only came to light last week when submitted as part of a federal lawsuit.

A three-judge panel in El Paso is hearing the federal lawsuit case, which alleges that lawmakers drew SD 10 to limit the voting power of citizens of color.

Seliger has been representing District 31 in the Panhandle and West Texas since 2004. In 2010 he was the chairman of the State Senate’s Redistricting Committee, which attempted to redraw SD 10 similar to the most recent redistricting.

However, in 2012 a federal court in Washington D.C. ruled that the district was drawn in a discriminatory fashion against citizens of color and ordered the state to restore the district’s initial configuration.

“Having participated in the 2011 and 2013 Senate Select Redistricting Committee proceedings, and having read the prior federal court decision regarding SD10, it was obvious to me that the renewed effort to dismantle SD 10 violated the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution,” Senator Seliger said in the declaration.

Seliger doubled down on his assertion in a recorded video deposition that played in court.

During the video, he said that lawmakers gave “pretextual reasons” for how the new political boundaries were decided during the redistricting process.

Seliger also highlighted how his district was redrawn. Under the new map, SD 31 is losing several counties in the Panhandle and adding about a dozen counties to the southern portion of the district, near Midland.

The redrawn district led to a Republican primary challenger entering the race against Seliger, who has since decided not to seek re-election. Because of that decision, the Texas Observer dubbed him “the first victim of redistricting in Texas.”

In part of the recorded deposition, Seliger revealed that he did not author the written statement. Rather, he just signed it after it was given to him by one of the plaintiffs in the case, current SD 10 Senator Beverly Powell (D-Burleson). Still, he stood by the contents of the declaration.

“Is everything exactly the way I would have written it? I can’t tell you that. I doubt it, but it was perfectly acceptable,” Seliger said.

Before 2021 redistricting, SD 10 consisted mainly of Fort Worth and was located only within Tarrant County. Under the new Republican-passed map, some black and hispanic populations that were previously entirely in District 10 are split into two other districts.

SD 10’s geographic size is also significantly increasing under the new map. The majority-white counties of Johnson, Palo Pinto, Stephens, Shackelford, Callahan, and Brown counties were added to the district, as was part of Parker County.

Plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit allege the move lessens the voting power of citizens of color that remain in SD 10 and want the district redrawn before March’s primary.

In a news release from November 2021, when the Texas Congress approved the redistricting, Senator Powell called the redrawn map “a brutal attack on Tarrant County voters.”

“The map cracks historic Tarrant County minority neighborhoods and submerges hundreds of thousands of Tarrant County voters into rural counties and suburban districts. It is an intentional racially discriminatory scheme to undermine and destroy the voting rights of those I am elected to serve,” Powell said.

The lawsuit over SD 10 is just one of several federal lawsuits filed against the Texas State Legislatures over its redrawn maps. However, it is moving quicker than other suits, which are not expected to be heard in court until this fall.

In hearings, co-sponsor of the redistricting bill, Joan Huffman (R-Houston), defended the maps, saying they were drawn “race-blind.”

“As I said, we considered many factors in drawing these lines. Racial constituencies was not one of them,” Huffman said during an October hearing.

“I have followed the law, I have drawn blind to race, I believe the maps I’ve drawn are compliant under the Voting Rights Act,” she continued.

After the Senate approved the maps, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released a statement saying the newly drawn maps were “fair and legal and passed with bipartisan support.”

“This map illustrates our commitment to making sure every Texan is well-represented in their state legislature and their voices are heard,” Patrick added, “I want to thank Sen. Huffman for her leadership and the 30 other senators for their hard work.”

SD 10 has historically been a swing district. Before Powell, the district was represented by Republican Konni Burton. Before Burton, the district’s representative was Wendy Davis, a Democrat.