Ellis County starts redistricting process
First workshop held as committee studies precinct boundary shifts due to population changes
On Wednesday, Oct. 13, the new Ellis County Redistricting Committee held its first workshop at the Historic Courthouse. The committee is comprised of citizen-representatives and is tasked with redrawing the boundaries for each of Ellis County’s four precincts following updated demographic data from the 2020 Census.
“The 2020 Census revealed population imbalance between the precincts,” said County Judge Todd Little, “because some areas have experienced more development than others over the last decade. The Redistricting Committee is working with our legal partners to equalize the precinct populations based on this new census data.”
During the workshop, the committee was presented an overview of relevant redistricting law by an attorney from Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta, LLP, a legal firm that advises local governments on procedural matters. In particular, the committee studied the “one-person, one-vote” principle, the non-discrimination standard of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and case law limitations on the use of race as a factor in efforts to ensure equal representation of every voter.
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the original requirement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that southern states obtain federal preclearance of their redistricting plans. After the 2020 Census, this year’s redistricting effort will be the first time in 56 years that Texas jurisdictions will be able to implement major redistricting plans without federal oversight.
Proposed redistricting maps are routinely challenged in court over allegations of disenfranchisement, but Ellis County pre-emptively partnered with the Bickerstaff law firm in April for guidance during the process. The Redistricting Committee represents a broad spectrum of citizens from the county and will work to implement a politically unbiased precinct map.
The Redistricting Committee is scheduled to meet for two more workshops, and it is expected to have its new precinct map complete by Nov. 2. Once the map is complete, the committee will submit it to the Commissioners’ Court for approval. Upon approval, the map will go into effect in 2022.