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Thursday, September 29, 2022
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Local State Senator Sues over Redrawn Political Maps

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Beverly Powell speaks at a campaign event. | Image from beverlypowell.com

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Tarrant County Democratic state Senator Beverly Powell filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Republican-led state Senate redistricting plan.

Powell is joined as a plaintiff in the suit with six other Tarrant County residents who argue that the redrawn maps substantially weaken the voting strength of minority citizens to the point of violating the U.S. Constitution and the Federal Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit lists Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Secretary of State John Scott as defendants.    

“The adopted Senate map is a brutal attack on Tarrant County voters,” Powell said in a news release. “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.”

The Senate’s redistricting plan will dramatically transform Powell’s Senate District 10. Previously, District 10 consisted mainly of Fort Worth and was located only within Tarrant County.

SD 10 has been a swing district. It was held by former State Senator Wendy Davis, a Democrat, then it was won by former State Senator Konni Burton, a Republican, before current State Senator Beverly Powell, a Democrat, won the district in 2018.

The redrawn map changes that, significantly increasing the geographic size of District 10 by adding all of Johnson, Palo Pinto, Stephens, Shackelford, Callahan, and Brown counties, while also adding part of Parker County. The changes ensure that the district would be a strong Republican vote, essentially removing Sen. Powell from office.

Senator Powell’s lawsuit is not the only one filed against the redistricting plan. In early September, Democratic state senators Roland Gutierrez and Sarah Eckhardt filed a lawsuit to block the Republican legislature from drawing the maps in the first place.

They argued that the current legislative districts were malapportioned based on the 2020 Census results. Thus, according to the Texas Constitution, the legislature could not redraw the maps until the next regular session in January 2023.    

Since the adoption of the redrawn maps, three other organizations have filed suit.

The Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and Voto Latino, which aims to encourage young Hispanics and Latino voters to register to vote and become more politically involved, have each filed similar lawsuits.

Each suit alleges that the redrawn maps violate the Voting Rights Act by intentionally discriminating against voters of color and giving white voters more voting power. 

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