The new redistricting plan was approved last summer, but not without some serious opposition and even a lawsuit. Members of the city’s Hispanic community said they felt their voice diminish following the defeat of Commissioner Sylvia Garcia. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says the court acted on a request to implement the changes in boundaries.
“Once the lines were drawn for the legislative districts and congressional districts, the courts don’t necessarily pay attention to the existing voting precinct lines so, the County Attorney and County Clerk have to go in and redraw those to comply with the court order.”
He said most people will not notice any changes, but Melissa Rowell, who chairs a precinct in NW Houston says hers was affected by the new boundaries.
“My precinct was split in half, basically. A lot of them were, and now we’re gonna have over 150 more precincts. So, we already have 885 in Harris County right now, and we’re shy a lot of precinct chairs. And the precinct chairs help run the elections in the precinct. So, we’re gonna have to find precinct chairs for those precincts.”
The amended map puts 2 voting precincts on the north edge of Kingwood back in Precinct 4, and moves Precinct 5 voting precincts in the Aldine area from Precinct 1 to Precinct 2. County Clerk Stan Stanart says his office’s contribution to the election process has begun.
“We have to April 14, is the day we actually have to mail our military ballots out. So, we’ve got to get things working fast, that’s why these precinct lines needed to be drawn today and get approved, so that we can get on, getting everybody coded up, so that we can get these ballots out to our military first of course, in anticipation for our May 29th natural election day.”
Normally when precinct lines are redrawn, they’re eventually divided and consolidated. Since the matter was stuck in federal court in San Antonio, Stanart says they didn’t have a chance to tweak the amended boundaries.
“That’s why we went up to over a thousand precincts in this redraw. We’ll come back after everything is settled in the court and get final lines. You know, the lines we have now are still not the final lines, believe it or not. They will still be argued in the court, and so it’ll probably be next year before we actually get those final lines. When we get those, we’ll redivide, and at that time we’ll also consolidate.”
He adds voting locations will remain the same even if you find yourself in a different precinct. You can find more information at www.harrisvotes.com.