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Bridge unsure when new voter cards will be mailed
by Gary Kent
Jan 26, 2012 | 796 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE — The courtroom battle over Texas’ redistricting lines has delayed the mailing of new voter registration cards to Bee County residents.

County Tax Assessor-Collector Linda Bridge said this week that the registration cards voters have now actually expired in December.

The cards are automatically renewed every two years for all registered voters.

“Due to the redistricting and lawsuits facing the state, the mailing of cards has been put on hold,” Bridge said.

New cards cannot yet be printed and mailed by the vendor, which works with the state, because the cards contain information like state and congressional district for each voter. The boundaries of those districts have not been approved as yet.

Texas’ redistricting battle began last year when the Legislature passed new congressional boundaries creating a few more seats that could be won by Republicans.

Texas was given four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives because of the rapid population growth in the state.

Most of that growth has been among Hispanics.

Texas is one of about nine states in the country that is required to have preclearance before making a change in voting laws.

According to an article in the publication Roll Call, that is a requirement of the Voting Rights Act.

The state had to sue the U.S. Justice Department to obtain approval for its new map. That case was to have gone to court this month.

Meanwhile, Hispanic groups and Democrats sued in federal court to overturn the new districts, and a panel of three federal judges drew up new boundaries more favorable to Democrats.

That prompted District 35 Texas Rep. José Aliseda to complain that the three-judge panel was overstepping its authority.

Aliseda has since testified on behalf of the original redistricting map in Washington, D.C.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the issue, and the court has agreed to do so.

Bridge said the legal wrangling already has forced Texas to delay its primary elections, normally held in March, to April 3. Now, that date could be delayed.

“That’s up in the air,” Bridge said. “We’re going forward as if there will be an April 3 primary. But it could be pushed to June or July.”

The tax assessor-collector said no one knows for sure when the new cards will be printed and mailed.

“It has been a very confusing ride for most officials,” she said.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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