Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed the Lone Star State’s new congressional map into law, ending the state’s long and twisted redistricting saga of the 2012 cycle.
A Perry aide confirmed to CQ Roll Call that the GOP governor inked the House district boundaries, passed by the legislature in a special session, on Wednesday afternoon.
The governor’s approval comes one day after the Supreme Court gutted a provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that forced Texas to seek federal approval for any changes to its voting laws — including its congressional maps. The state was one of several covered by Section 5 because, according to the original law, it had a history of discrimination in its voting practices.
But the high court ruled Tuesday that the formula used to select these states was outdated, allowing these previously covered states, like Texas, to change their voting laws and maps without federal approval anymore. Within hours of the high court’s decision, Texas officials announced they would implement a new identification requirement for voters — a law that had been previously blocked by federal officials under Section 5.
Earlier last year, Texas Republicans attempted to pass a more aggressive map, but a federal court in Washington, D.C., struck it down also under Section 5. A San Antonio-based federal court ordered lawmakers to use an interim map instead.
Last month, Perry called the state legislature into a special session to deal with the congressional and legislative maps. Republicans, who dominate both chambers in Texas, intended to pass the court-ordered interim map used in the 2012 elections into law. They accomplished that this week, sending the maps to the governor’s desk.
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Texas picked up four new House seats last cycle following the decennial census. Explosive population growth among Hispanics accounted for most of the population growth that led to the increase.
Until the high court’s decision, many House Democrats from Texas were hopeful they could get a redrawn map that would add another majority-minority city in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Texas Democrats could still challenge the map in court under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The high court did not touch that provision, which outlaws intentional discrimination in voting laws.