Does ‘packing and cracking’ tip the scales to Republican congressmen

Central Texas Congressional Districts from the State of Texas.
Central Texas Congressional Districts from the State of Texas.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A three-judge panel in San Antonio continues to look into whether the state of Texas purposely took power away from African-Americans and Hispanics when they drew Congressional district lines.

They’re taking a close look at Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s District 35. He’s the lone Democrat in Washington, D.C. from Central Texas. His district goes from Austin all the way down to San Antonio, and plaintiffs say those lines were drawn to hurt minorities in Texas.

If Daniel Segura-Kelly was to drive through his Congressional district, he’d leave his east Austin home, drive west to Dripping Springs, then north more than a hundred miles.

“I can’t say that I’ve ever been to Dripping Springs,” said Daniel Segura-Kelly. “It’s a lot more rural than east Austin certainly is. There’s a lot more dense population in east Austin.”

He says he’s been politically silenced by the way his district is drawn. “There’s just an arm that reaches into east Austin to grab a handful of brown and black people.”

A political term for this is known as “packing and cracking,” — packing a group of people into one area and diluting them in others.

Lawmakers drew Doggett’s district to be packed with minority voters. Census data shows 71 percent of people in his district are Hispanic or black. The other four districts in Travis County are split up.

Thirty-nine percent of people in Rep. Michael McCaul’s district are black or Hispanic, 38 percent in Rep. Bill Flores’s, 24 percent in Roger Williams’ and 32 percent in Lamar Smith’s district. That’s how the Democratic hot spot of Travis County is represented by four Republicans.

Plaintiffs earlier this week brought in experts to explain “racial polarization” which is how they describe elections in Texas, where by margins of more than 80 percent, white people vote for Republicans, minorities vote for Democrats.

It is legal to “pack” and “crack” a political party. It is not legal to do that to minorities. San Antonio judges approved the lines for the 2012 election. In fact, they drew the lines themselves. Then lawmakers put them in permanent place in 2013.

“We’re confident that this federal court followed the Supreme Court’s order to draw lawful maps,” Marc Rylander, spokesperson for Attorney General Ken Paxton,

This week, those same judges are taking a second look at the lines in Travis County. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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