In political elections, results are determined by gerrymandering and Voter ID registration laws. However, these political exercises as gerrymandering and voter ID laws could either be racially motivated or based on political machinations. Gerrymandering refers to redistricting that favors a single political party. Indeed, Gerrymandering originated in the United States and had surely been a long tradition since 1789 during the first U.S. Congress. Ideally, the core practice of gerrymandering is to give a political advantage to a particular political party especially a candidate from the majority district (Verba Schlozman and Brady 45). Also, gerrymandering is also to hinder persons from racial minority communities from winning elections. However, there are two main types of gerrymandering that are intentional partisan and racial gerrymandering based. Nevertheless, while partisan gerrymandering and voter ID laws might be political, racial, religion, class influenced, in Texas politics, it is racially motivated. By observing a country’s voter ID registration and voting exercise, there is a way to tell whether gerrymandering and ID laws are racially or politically biased. Indeed, after the November 2012 elections, the Texas Civil Rights project received reports from Bexar and Harris Counties indicating that registered voters were unable to vote (Highton n.p).
Surprisingly, their names did not appear on the voter register. On further investigations, the civil rights project discovered the laxity in implementation of voter ID laws concerning voter registration cards process. For instance, registration clerks would only sit on desks where majority white people lived before moving to local counties where minority race persons lived. Further, students who were eligible to vote were never given voting opportunity in black minority counties since enrollment forms never made it to schools. In fact, reports indicated there was no uniformity or direction from the Texas Secretary of State, and voter registration in Texas was in disarray. As such, voter ID laws confusion makes it difficult for Anglo-Americans to register.
Further, the implementation of new voter ID law has considerably barred some citizens from registering. Much as the DPS has stepped in to help by reducing the cost of ID certificates, the minorities Anglo-Americans living far from big towns have no time or transport to visit a DPS office (Savage, 3).
Still on voter ID laws, on July 25, 2013, the Attorney General requested the U.S. District court to re-subject Texas to federal preclearance. Indeed, the Attorney General highlighted Texas vulnerability to racial discrimination and regressive voting practices saying there was the need to “bail-in” Texas. As such, the Department Of Justice idea to prioritize Texas confirms the fact that Texan minority face voting discrimination.
Although voting is a democratic right in Texas, racial gerrymandering has been rife for long especially in South Texas where voter suppression actions and machinations are widespread. Indeed, the Ku Klux Klan viewed the Fifteenth Amendment of the U.S Constitution and enfranchisement of blacks as a danger to the white supremacy (Hiatt 5). Since the twentieth century, African American voters were high in population and voted for Republicans. Therefore, the Ku Klux Khan used intimidation and violence to frighten them from the polls. In fact, suppression of rival party votes goes on today in Texas mainly because minority populations are increasing.
According to human rights reports, Texas has always implemented gerrymandering and voter ID laws like disenfranchisement to deter blacks and Mexican origin citizens “Tejanos” from efficiently participating politically. For instance, Anglo-Americans banned bilingual ballots in various Southern Texas. Further, gerrymandering and voter ID laws ensured interpreters were banned from polling stations in 1918 to prohibit Mexican Americans from voting. Although the fifteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave blacks right to vote gerrymandering of majority black districts reduced black admission to legislative and judicial posts. More so, Texas used newspaper articles to hint there might be high minority black turnout to an upcoming election thus gerrymandering for a white candidate by influencing white voter turnout. In reality, Texas was not initially subject to Section 5 preclearance of the Voter Registration Act. As such, the minority communities went on facing uncontrolled voting discrimination until 1975. Evidently, in 2006, there was an effort by some districts to cutting poll stations by less than a quarter and positioning these locations to strategic sports with white residents only. In essence, this action would inconvenience minority race voters. However, the Justice Department intervened. Still, Texas legislature passed a voter ID law requiring that for voters to vote they should produce photographic identification. However, this law was to target unfairly Hispanic voters who lacked Identification cards and a racial gerrymandering as well.
In conclusion, political efforts such as discriminative voter ID laws and racial gerrymandering practices reflect Texas as a traditionalist state. Besides, history shows that Texas has used discrimination against Mexicans, African American and Hispanic persons to deter them from participating fully in Texas politics. Indeed, Texas has always held on to the tradition of majority leadership. As such Texas gerrymandering and voter ID laws are racially motivated and not solely based on political machinations.
- Hiatt, F. (2013, October 18). Kansas and Arizona continue voter suppression efforts. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com
- Highton, B. (2004). Voter registration and turnout in the United States. Perspectives on Politics, 2(3), 507-515. Retrieved from jstor.org
- Savage, D. (2013, June 18). Justices block Arizona voter ID law. Los Angeles Times. p. A1
- Verba, S., Schlozman, K., & Brady, H. (1995). Voice and equality: Civic voluntarism in American politics. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.