Redistricting controversy causes election concerns

Texas' primary has been pushed back from March to April due to a challenge to the constitutionality of state and congressional redistricting lines.

Texas has four new congressional districts because of population growth.

The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing the case involving the district line changes on January 12th.

The issue is that there are two different plans for where the redistricting lines are to be drawn. The Texas Legislature set one plan, and a three judge federal panel drew different lines. Until the highest court in the land decides the issue, two county offices are in a kind of limbo.

Jefferson County Clerk Carolyn Guidry is one of two elected officials left dangling by the convoluted legal process.

Until the Supreme Court decides if the plans are constitutionally sound, Guidry can't do her work of forming a ballot for the primary.

Guidry says the redistricting impacts Texas State Representatives Joe Deshotel and Allan Ritter.

"I am a little bit concerned about the state lines which are on state reps, state rep 21 and 22 and where those lines are going to fall," Guidry said, "It is possible that we may have to do a little bit of tweaking once those lines are set."

The lag in a final decision has also left Jefferson County's Registrar wrestling with the tedious issue of how to send out new voter registration cards, without knowing where the lines will be drawn.

December 6th was the original deadline to send them out, and the new deadline is February 13th.

Jefferson County Tax Assessor Shane Howard said his office has addressed the lag with early preparation.

"My office has been working for the last month on insuring that voters are in the new precincts, that they are indeed in new voting precincts, and once the court makes its decision, we'll be able to populate that data into their cards and should be ok with the new deadline," Howard said.

Howard said he believes his office will have enough information to do the job by January 20th.

Guidry said if the U.S. Supreme Court delays its decision again, it could push the Texas primary back again, this time to July.

Early voting is scheduled for March 19th through 31st.


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