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Policy: Law

High Court's Voting Rights Act could revive Texas GOP's favored redistricting plan

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Beltway Confidential,Mark Tapscott,Supreme Court,Texas,Voter Registration,Constitutionality,Judicial Review,Law

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wasted no time in acting upon the Supreme Court's resurrection in last week's Voting Rights Act decision of states' authority under the 10th Amendment to govern elections within their boundaries.

In a statement saying the state's disputed voter registration identification requirements are now in effect, Abbott added that "redistricting maps passed by the legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government."

He was referring to the redistricting plan recently adopted by the state legislature in the wake of federal disapproval of a 2011 redistricting plan that would have given Texas Republicans a leg up to gain additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2014 congressional election.

To go back to the 2011 plan, Gov. Rick Perry would have to veto the just-passed bill adopting the interim boundaries used in the 2012 election, then the legislature would have to repass the 2011 plan and Perry sign it, according to the Dallas Morning News.

A Perry spokesman declined to say what the governor would do in the event the 2011 plan was repassed and sent to him for signing, but Democrats and their allied minority political activists expect such an eventuality.

"Democrats and minority groups said they were certain both sets of maps would be in trouble in court. But they expressed concern that Perry and Abbott would ditch the interim plan and push for the original map, which would wipe out a minority-dominated congressional district in North Texas and place state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, in a district dominated by Republicans," the newspaper's Gromer Jeffers reported Friday.

Enforcement of the new voter ID law in Texas is likely to produce controversy no matter what happens on the redistricting front in the Lone Star State.

In a radio interview with Janine Turner, Abbott called voter fraud a serious problem.

"I have prosecuted voter fraud across the state of Texas," he told Turner. "Voter fraud is real in the state of Texas. It's been real ever since LBJ won a disputed election for the United States Senate well over 50 years ago. And one of the ways to crack down on voter fraud is by requiring a photo ID."

Abbott was referring to a hotly contested 1948 Senate election in which then-Rep. Lyndon B. Johnson defeated former Gov. Coke Stevenson by 87 votes out of more than a million cast. Accusations of voter fraud forever followed LBJ thereafter in his nickname, "Landslide Lyndon," thanks to disappearing ballot boxes and voter rolls with multiple signatures in the same handwriting in Duval County and elsewhere in South Texas.

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