Federal Judge Orders Redrawing Of Galveston County Voting Maps, Citing Violations Of Voting Rights Act

Federal Judge Orders Redrawing Of Galveston County Voting Maps, Citing Violations Of Voting Rights Act

Federal Judge Jeffrey V. Brown ruled that Galveston County’s commissioner courts maps violated the federal Voting Rights Act when they were drawn in 2021, and ordered the county to draw new maps by Oct. 20.

According to the Texas Tribune, the Trump-appointed judge ruled that the map “denies Black and Latino voters the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and the opportunity to elect a representative of their choice to the commissioners court.” 

The trial, which began in August, established that Galveston County used its first opportunity to draw maps without government oversight to stop Black and Latine voters in the county’s Precinct 3 from exercising control over their political representation. The only Democrat on the county commissioner court, a Black man named Stephen Holmes, was elected directly from Precinct 3.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, a Republican, indicated that he would appeal the ruling, saying “The County followed redistricting law and did not engage in any racial discrimination,” Henry said. “We believe this will be vindicated by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. As County Judge, I have never lost a voting rights act case on appeal.”

Sarah Xiyi Chen, an attorney in the Texas Civil Rights Project’s voting rights program, issued a statement on Oct. 13 that read, “We are thrilled with today’s decision — now, Black and Latino Galveston residents will once again have a fair shot to influence the decisions that shape their community.”

Chen continued, “The residents of Galveston fought hard for this win, sharing their stories and pride from the historic Precinct 3 — we are glad they are finally able to get the relief they deserve. We hope the commissioners court takes this opportunity to draw a new map that ensures that the community will have their votes, voices and needs heard for the next decade.”

The Department of Justice found the maps so egregious that they made a move to fight the county maps a mere four months after they were initially adopted, later joined by the County’s local LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) chapter and three local branches of the NAACP.


This comes as the Supreme Court appears to be on the cusp of allowing a South Carolina map that was deemed racially biased by a lower court. According to Reuters, the 2022 version of the Republican drawn map removed 30,000 Black residents from a district. A panel of three federal judges ruled in January that the map violated the 14th and 15th Amendments barring racial discrimination in the election process and promising equal protection under the law.

Leah Aden, a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, told Reuters that the map’s changes “reflects that there was a racial target, it reflects that there was a significant sorting of Black people, it reflects unrebutted expert evidence of race rather than party explaining the assignment of voters.”

In a similar case, the Supreme Court ruled against Alabama Republicans in June 2023, ordering them to redraw their maps, making them create a second majority-Black U.S. House district in the state. 

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