The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Advertisement
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
Advertisement
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter • June 16, 2024

Texas A&M baseball sophomore RF Jace LaViolette is known for his bat — and for good reason. LaViolette ranks sixth in the country in home...

Advertisement
Enjoying the Destination
Enjoying the Destination
Cara Hudson, Maroon Life writer • June 17, 2024

Editor's note: This article is sponsored content. All photos were provided by Visit Bryan. For the history buffs, there’s a story to why...

Advertisement
Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
Review: ‘Furiosa’ is a must-see
Justin ChenJune 4, 2024

My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
June 16, 2024

Crossing lines over voter representation

The+Brazos+County+redistricting+process+has+begun.
Photo by Photo by Nathan Varnell

The Brazos County redistricting process has begun.

The county is fast-approaching a deadline to represent all voters, but not without disagreement.

The illustrative plan for Brazos County’s decennial redistricting was deliberated by the County Commissioners Court in an Oct. 28 workshop session, following a hearing for public comments the day before. Predominantly under review were the equitable divisions of certain areas, such as neighborhoods along FM-2818, to comply with the “one-person, one-vote” of precinct redistricting. But a seemingly minor suggestion in the process sparked a clash between two commissioners over potential gerrymandering.

Brazos County has seen a population growth of 17.6 percent since 2010 to a total 233,849, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s QuickFacts website. This rapid increase has left the four County Commissioner Precincts with “insufficiently equal” populations, according to the Brazos County District Information website.

“At the last court session, you started from one of our draft plans and came up with the plan that’s on the screen now, Illustrative Plan 1. That’s the plan we put out for public comments,” Sidney Falk Jr. said, referring to the digital geographic information systems map presented to the court. 

Falk represents Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP, the Austin-based law firm contracted to oversee the process of balancing the precincts. Per U.S. Supreme Court case White v. Regester, the combined deviation of the most populous district and the least populous district from the “ideal district population” may not exceed 10 percent, and all the other district populations must fall within that narrow range, according to the Texas Legislative Council’s “Guide to 2021 Redistricting.”

“We’re here today to look at that plan and consider any changes you want to make to it, hopefully agreeing on a plan that you will be ready to adopt at your next meeting,” Falk said.

Taking into consideration public comments, commissioners such as Steve Aldrich, for Precinct 1, directed Bickerstaff to draw boundaries more easily communicated to the public while still following the law. One such change was moving Precinct 1 to the south of FM-2818, while dividing the Southwood area north of the highway between precincts 3 and 4.

“Most of those that spoke [at the public hearing] were speaking to us being fair and equitable and within the law, and I think you’ve done that with every drawing that you’ve shown,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Irma Cauley said, addressing Falk.

However, a request from Precinct 2 Commissioner Russ Ford to move several low-population census blocks “just east of Highway 30” drew fire.

“I don’t want that,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Nancy Berry said. “Highway 30 makes the most sense, adding that area does not. It would also eliminate a political challenger to Commissioner Ford, which I think is wrong.”

In Brazos County precincts, a challenger can move their residency to another precinct that they wish to run in, Ford said in reply.

“You could rent property in that precinct and still be fully within the law,” Ford said. “We can’t totally disregard the comments yesterday just because it might put one person in a different precinct — they can move.”

If his request had been incorporated into the illustrative plan, the challenger in question would no longer be in Precinct 2, Ford’s jurisdiction, but Precinct 3, Berry’s jurisdiction that largely covers Bryan, not College Station.

“Anybody can move, that’s not the point,” Berry said. “The point is this is a particular gerrymander that would eliminate a competitor, and that’s wrong.”

Ford said the request was in order to address comments from the public hearing, during which one resident living in the contested area, Ray Schultz, said the relevant election precinct should be split into two. County Judge Duane Peters said he disagreed with Ford.

“That is an [extraterritorial jurisdiction] of College Station, the city of Bryan is on the other side of a major highway,” Peters said. “But highway 30 really is the logical place for that line to be. It’s a fine line where everybody who drives out there will know that Precinct 3 is on one side, Precinct 2 is on the other side.”

Following assenting advice from General Counsel Bruce Erratt, the Court voted 4-1 in a motion to not incorporate Ford’s request.

The modified map, dubbed Illustrative Plan 2 by Bickerstaff attorney Joshua Katz, was moved to be on the agenda of the Nov. 2 session for adoption. The final deviation rate of the plan was 6.9 percent, Katz said, well within the legal requirement of 10 percent.

The Nov. 2 meeting will be held at 10 a.m. in the County Commissioners Court, at 200 S Texas Ave., Suite 106 in Bryan.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *