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Government/Politics

Democrat Testifies That GOP Did Not Discriminate When Drawing State House Maps

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The federal trial over whether the state’s Republican leadership intentionally discriminated against minorities when drawing new voting district maps continued today in San Antonio.

One Democrat who testified Wednesday doesn't believe that's what happened.

State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, was questioned about whether he believes conservatives targeted minority groups when redrawing the state's House districts. He told the court and its three-judge panel that he doesn't think Republicans intentionally tried to take away the right for minorities to elect the candidate of their choice.

Manipulating political boundaries to favor one party, which is known as gerrymandering, is constitutional. What's not legal is doing so to the point that a protected group of people under the Voting Rights Act loses voting strength.

Pickett signed off on the redistricting plans mapped out for his El Paso district, but he did not vote for the redistricting bill overall.

After he left the stand, he told TPR that many of his Republican colleagues, who he's known for years, would never operate in secret and intentionally discriminate. Instead, he said redistricting is an inherently partisan practice, and no matter which party is in control, that party’s goal is to preserve political standing.

The trial will continue over the next few weeks with no ruling expected for several months. A trial over congressional seats will pick up in August.