Hearing about election jurisdictions attempting to change voting laws definitely is not a shocker and I expect it to occur more in cities and towns around Texas who have benefited from single member districts in the form of representation. The Supreme Court’s decimation of the Voting Rights Act has caused conservative elected officials to walk around with their chests out while they reverse course on decades of progress on equal rights for all.
Regarding Pasadena, I received this from State Senator Sylvia Garcia:
Pasadena Mayor Johnny Isbell submitted a mid-decade redistricting change to the Pasadena City Charter that alters the city council from an eight single-member district council to a hybrid system with two at large seats and six-single member district seats. The change will significantly increase the population size of each council seat and depending on the map could drastically harm the ability of Latinos to elect their candidates of choice. The Pasadena City Council approved the city charter amendment on a 5-4 vote despite overwhelming public opposition in a late evening city council hearing on August 20, 2013.
“This decision by the Mayor and the majority of the Council is exactly the type of change the Voting Rights Act was intended to prevent. I am extremely disappointed that the Council approved this charter amendment despite the opposition by the citizen’s commission and the minority community,” stated Senator Sylvia Garcia.
With the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the City of Pasadena will no longer need to obtain the pre-clearance of the Department of Justice, despite the fact that a similar election change was denied approval in December of 2012. The measure will likely be added to the November ballot for voter approval.
According to U.S. Department of Justice, since 1982 Texas has had the second highest number of Voting Rights Act Section 5 objections including at least 109 objections since 1982, 12 of which were for statewide voting changes. Texas leads the nation in several categories of voting discrimination, including recent Section 5 violations and Section 2 challenges.
According to this article, the charter amendment would be a fifth one added to a list to be voted on in November. The people still get to decide, but it will take a real, concerted effort to educate voters on defeating this amendment.
What I have been saying for the longest time is that while the Voting Rights Act was created to protect voters from people like Pasadena’s mayor, we still have the ultimate responsibility to vote. In the case of Pasadena, elections matter even more.
BOR has more, including some demographic analysis.