April 3 Primary Requires Redistricting Map Agreement by End of Day

Posted by Jon Weist, on Fri December 16 2011 at 06:48 PM

The Texas political primary schedule could get blown up today, barring some very unlikely moves by the two major political parties. The panel of federal judges in San Antonio that is charged with drawing interim maps indicated that the April 3 primary date can’t be met if they don’t receive agreed-upon maps for Congress, the Texas House and Texas Senate by the close of business today.

Word is that the parties have been unable to find agreement – no surprise, that’s why they’re in the court in the first place – and are now trying to determine if there will be presidential primary April 3, which all the others occurring later, or if they all get kicked into early summer. The parties can’t agree on that, either.

Democrats have urged that the whole schedule be shifted, while Republicans have indicated that a split primary – one in April and one later – is preferable to them. Splitting primaries imposes additional costs – mostly in the form of building rentals and election-worker pay – on local governments if that happens, so it’s a little ironic that the party urging the split is the same party that doesn’t want the government spending much money on anything.

The federal appeals panel in Washington, D.C., that is hearing the state’s lawsuit against the Justice Department finished the hearing last week, but announced there is unlikely to be a decision on the constitutionality of the maps drawn by the Legislature within the next 30 days. County elections officials have said that their time line for getting voting precincts drawn has already run out because there are no other districts to fit those precincts into.

While the US Supreme Court rejected the first maps issued by the San Antonio panel, there is no indication of what to do in place of those maps. Absent a decision from either the supremes or the DC district court, the San Antonio panel seems poised to issue a second set of interim maps, though when the election on those maps would occur is anyone’s guess. 

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