In Texas, a Battle for Hispanic Voters Moves to the Cities
Photo: Jason Fochtman
This story was published in partnership with The Texas Tribune.
WASHINGTON — There is a battle afoot in Texas’s state legislature over whether to expand voting in Texas’s urban areas.
It is being waged mostly by Latino voters, who are more likely to live in cities.
The proposal, which would add 100,000 new voting precincts, had been approved by a House committee in a close 16-13 vote, with some Republicans voting against the measure.
The legislation, which would allow many of Texas’s 11 million Hispanics a greater say in elections, has become a flashpoint in a heated battle between a Republican governor and a Democratic lieutenant governor.
The legislation follows the successful election of Gov. Greg Abbott in June as Texas moved from an electoral college system, which awards electoral votes to the winner of statewide races, to a national popular vote system that awards those electoral votes to the winner in the Electoral College.
The lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, has accused Abbott of intentionally running a weak campaign against him, and has called for Abbott’s removal as governor.
The state legislature, controlled by Republicans, could override the governor’s veto or approve the redistricting measure.
The issue of voting rights is especially sensitive for Latinos, a voting bloc that has only about 10 percent of registered voters in the state.
The bill being considered in the legislature would allow local governments to add additional voting precincts in their areas with a two-thirds majority vote.
The law, if passed by the legislature, will be sent to the governor for his signature before becoming law.
Voting rights advocates say that the measure is a critical step toward increasing representation of Latinos and other underrepresented minority voters, many of them minorities underrepresented in the Legislature.
“This is a really important state bill that could bring people out. It could bring people out in greater numbers,” said Mary Kay Hinojosa, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
“I’m really pleased that the bill got a fair hearing in the House and we hope that the legislature will approve it,