Republican commissioners and a group of voters sued Harris County on Tuesday over newly approved precinct maps they say will ensure a Democratic supermajority on Commissioners Court.
Under the new maps, which drastically change three of four Harris County precinct boundaries, the suit argues, among other things, that one Republican seat would be strengthened while another republican seat would likely be lost.
Cagle and Ramsey, who are in the political minority in county government, lost ground in the redistricting plan their three political opponents supported, as Cagle’s Precinct 4 was redrawn last month to become majority Democrat.
Cagle and Ramsey announced Tuesday they were suing Democratic County Judge Lina Hidalgo and the county itself but indicated through their attorney they see Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia as equally guilty of depriving voters’ rights. Three fellow plaintiffs who stood with the commissioners at a news conference were identified as registered voters and ethnic minorities in court documents.
Precincts 2 and 4 have elections in 2022. Precincts 1 and 3 will have elections in 2024. The adopted Ellis map gives Democrats a 50 percent advantage over Republicans in Precinct 1, 12 points in Precinct 2, and 12 points in Precinct 4. Republican voters will now be disproportionately represented in Precinct 3, where they will have a 20-point advantage.
A population bump during the 2020 Census triggered a requirement that Harris County even out the population across the four precincts. Cagle and Ramsey hired lawyers from Hoover Slovacek 18, crunched the numbers, and determined about 200,000 people would need to change districts or about four percent of the population.
Instead, 2.28 million people, or nearly half of the county, moved.
“That’s not what happened,” said Attorney Andy Taylor. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What’s going on?….you have to look closely.”
Cagle, who has everything to lose from the new map, stepped to the podium and reiterated a number his lawyer had mentioned. He said 1.1 million people who were going to vote this coming spring are “going to have to wait six years to vote, and others, who just voted, are gonna have a redo.”
“The right to vote is an invaluable right to everybody,” Cagle said.
Below is a video of the full press conference