Redistricting

Controversies

There are conflicting opinions regarding the correlation between partisan gerrymandering and electoral competitiveness. In 2012, Jennifer Clark, a political science professor at the University of Houston, said, “The redistricting process has important consequences for voters. In some states, incumbent legislators work together to protect their own seats, which produces less competition in the political system. Voters may feel as though they do not have a meaningful alternative to the incumbent legislator. Legislators who lack competition in their districts have less incentive to adhere to their constituents’ opinions.”

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 mandates that electoral district lines cannot be drawn in such a manner as to “improperly dilute minorities’ voting power.”

No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.

States and other political subdivisions may create majority-minority districts in order to comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. A majority-minority district is a district in which minority groups compose a majority of the district’s total population. As of 2015, Texas was home to 18 congressional majority-minority districts.

Proponents of majority-minority districts maintain that these districts are a necessary hindrance to the practice of cracking, which occurs when a constituency is divided between several districts in order to prevent it from achieving a majority in any one district. In addition, supporters argue that the drawing of majority-minority districts has resulted in an increased number of minority representatives in state legislatures and Congress.

Critics, meanwhile, contend that the establishment of majority-minority districts can result in packing, which occurs when a constituency or voting group is placed within a single district, thereby minimizing its influence in other districts. Because minority groups tend to vote Democratic, critics argue that majority-minority districts ultimately present an unfair advantage to Republicans by consolidating Democratic votes into a smaller number of districts.