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For Immediate Release
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Contact:  Eric Wortman 202-226-68571

Texas Case Proves Need for Non-Partisan Redistricting Process, Group Says

WASHINGTON D.C.- The Government Accountability Office should investigate whether the Department of Justice followed proper procedures in approving a Texas redistricting plan that the department’s own attorneys said violated the Voting Rights Act, according to the Blue Dog Coalition. 


“We suggest that the GAO investigate whether the ultimate decision to pre-clear the Texas congressional map was based on criteria stipulated in Section Five of the VRA or partisan interest,” the 30 Blue Dogs wrote in a Dec. 14 letter to Comptroller David Walker.


Top Justice Department officials approved in 2003 a Texas redistricting plan authored largely by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. A recently uncovered memo indicates eight career staffers in the department’s voting rights division unanimously recommended the map be struck down to protect the rights of minority voters.


The memo “suggests a blatant disregard for the regular procedures employed by the Department and puts into question the legitimacy of the 2003 map under this portion of the VRA,” the Blue Dogs wrote in their letter.


Developments in the case also demonstrate the need for a non-political method of drawing Congressional maps, said Rep. John Tanner (D-TN), a founding member of the Blue Dogs, who earlier this year introduced the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act. The bill, co-sponsored by 27 Blue Dogs, would establish non-partisan redistricting commissions in each state and bar mid-decade partisan redistricting processes like the one undertaken in Texas.


“We have to take the redistricting process out of the hands of professional politicians and give it back to the American people,” Tanner said. “That is the only way we can ensure the process truly upholds the idea of ‘one person, one rule,’ which is the very basis of our democracy.”

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