In our March 27 DGT meeting, a gentleman named Ron brought several copies of this op-ed he's been trying to get published through the Austin-American Statesman. Not only is his letter amazing, it's part of our next step in our Rowdy Strategy. If you want to join with Ron, you want to send this letter to the Editorial Board at the Austin American-Statesman. (link below)
- Austin American Statesman Editorial Board - email
Our ask of you: take this letter, add something about you (a short bio: "I'm a working Mom from Austin, 9th generation Texan, and I care about the rights of my fellow citizens") and send it on. If you feel so inclined, you can send it to the other newspapers across the state. To get you started, here are a few:
- Dallas Morning News Editorial Board - email
- Houston Chronicle - email
- San Antonio Express News - email
- El Paso Times - email
- This is just a few but you can look any city's newspaper editorial board and email them!
Stop Texas Illegitimate Elections
Gerrymandering is the single most effective barrier to liberty. The Texas Legislature in long years past established that only the legislature could make changes to the redistricting process. This decision to take away self-determination by citizens was established to ensure their reelection and silence the voice of dissent.
The Legislature has drawn district boundaries to favor one party and in the process, created districts that are not related to contiguity. They are not compact nor do they allow for our major cities to have unified representation in Congress or at the state level. If you live in the south part of Abilene, your state Senator lives in West Austin. If you live in North Austin, your district runs to Katy. In this process of cracking cities, they have marginalized large contingents of the voting public and made it near impossible for independent candidates to have a snowball’s chance in hell.
As a voter, I am saddened that the voting turnout in Texas is pathetic. I feel that people recognize the warning sign: they really have no voice in Texas politics and no power to influence elections. The Legislature is the fox guarding the hen house! They have no incentive to change as gerrymandered districts protect them against challengers. They follow the party line and are incentivized to keep it this way. Unless they hear from their constituents that they demand redistricting reform, this will continue to be the norm for Texas.
Years ago, Senator Wentworth proposed an Independent Redistricting Commission. While this passed in the Senate, the House voted it down out of their own self-interest. As the Texas Legislature controls what goes on the ballot, NO Texas Citizen can propose a ballot initiative, thus ensuring their own reelection prospects. 44% of Texans approve of an Independent Redistricting Commission, 25% are opposed, while the rest are undecided.
Net results of all this gerrymandering is the imposition of a minority platform. There are not many remedies in Texas or many other states. A Catch-22 exists that no changes can be made to the voting process unless those deeply opposed to losing their election position approve. The Texas Citizen is marginalized by party politics. Independent voters have nowhere to go.
The first question about Independent Redistricting is “what harm does it do?” I, myself, see nothing of harmful consequence. Anyone opposed to an Independent Commission would be based solely on silencing dissent. Politics, in Texas, is centered on eliminating opposing voices. Witness the Texas Legislature as it is continually in hot water for discrimination in voting districts. Most recently with the Federal Court decision that 3 districts violates the Voting Rights Act.
Neither party is to be trusted with redistricting. A computer based Independent Redistricting process must be overseen by a board of Citizens, no office holders allowed. This is encapsulated in Rep Victoria Neave (TX-107) bill, HJR 118 to create a truly independent redistricting commission. Political party affiliations will not have a majority on this Independent board. Rep Donna Howard (TX-48) puts a step in that direction forward: HJR 32 and HB 369 that would establish a redistricting committee from members of the House and Senate (a total of 4 - 2 each from opposing parties), 2 retired judges (from opposing parties), and a member elected to the group from the Senate.
Second question about Independent Redistricting is “are there any positive ramifications to an Independent Redistricting Commission?” I believe that it will encourage more Texans to vote; voters will believe and see that their vote will count, it will encourage new talent to take part in this process, and it will reduce the number of politicians draining the public coffers. The Good Lord knows we need fresh, new voices in government.
Openness and fairness in the elective process is like sunlight to vampires for entrenched parties. A district must be formed according to a set population number and be assessed for contiguity and geographical proximity. No other considerations are necessary.
I have been encouraged by the opinions of my friends, family, and neighbors who are in agreement that this process must end. We will strive to overcome the illegitimate nature of Texas Elections. We must end Gerrymandering in Texas!
(Note: you will need to sign your name, home city, and possible other requirements as dictated by the newspaper to whom you are submitting to for consideration.)