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It’s Up To The Judge On County Lines

The fate of the Harris County redistricting map is under the ruling of U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore.



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Minorities filed suit last August against Ed Emmett and Harris County over the proposed redistricting map. They claimed it dilutes the voting strength of Latinos in Precinct 2.

The two sides attempted mediation in hopes of agreeing on a temporary map that could be used for the elections next year. It didn’t happen, but first assistant county attorney Terry O’Roarke says work continues toward a solution, but now it will happen under the order of Federal Judge Vanessa Gilmore.

“Each side has got some very smart people over there with lots of different computers working on all kinds of ways to be able to produce the data to support whatever order there would be, and each is gonna present ideas of you know. Adopt our plan that meets the needs and the other one would argue that their meets the needs, but she wants to make sure that she’s got sufficient support when she does it, so that she’s not overruled, or there’s the possibility that somebody else could come in at another time and attack her very order.”

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Harris County has a population of over 4 million residents, with over 40-percent of Hispanic or Latino origin.

The complaint asserts that Latinos will lose representation in County Commissioner’s Court, and seek to prevent the county from using the proposed plan in any future elections. Filing has been postponed statewide and O’Roarke says whatever precincts are drawn will be done to comply with the filing.

“That’s right, we are gonna run this election on time and there will be a primary and a general election next year for the precincts for the Harris County Commissioners, three of them.”

Precinct-2 Commissioner Jack Morman is not up for election until 2014, but the other three commissioners will be on the ballot next year.