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Texas Senate holds first redistricting hearing

1 month 3 days 10 hours ago Tuesday, January 26 2021 Jan 26, 2021 January 26, 2021 8:09 AM January 26, 2021 in News - Local

The Texas Senate is holding its first hearing on redistricting in 2021—and there are already concerns being raised about the effects of possible undercounts. 

Lawmakers and advocates are concerned that a potential undercount of people of color could make it even harder for minorities to get representation in office. 

Currently 58 percent of Texans are people of color, yet only 36 percent of the legislature, according to census estimates. 

RELATED: Texas advocates concerned about new district boundary lines  

Stephanie Swanson with the League of Women Voters says the history of redistricting hasn’t gone well for Hispanics, citing results from the last census in 2010. 

“What you saw was the Hispanic and Latino population, and the minority community here in Texas, were short about five congressional seats,” Swanson said.

READ ALSO: Biden signs executive order to impact census count  

Dr. Lloyd B. Pottery, a state demographer, testified Monday that estimates show that almost half of the areas with self-response rates lower than 50 percent are made up predominantly of Hispanics, which he says could skew census data - a key tool used for redistricting. 

“Well, we already are a majority minority state and have been for some time,” Potter said. “We anticipate the Latino population will exceed the non-Hispanic white population either later this year or sometime in 2022.”

Potter pointed to some rural areas, including Starr County, to explain a low-response rate. 

RELATED: Amid pandemic, Texas Senate Redistricting Committee seeks public input via Zoom  

“One, there’s limited access to internet and two, they don’t have mailable addresses,” Potter said. 

Dr. Potter and other advocates say many factors play a role in low self-response rates, including the pandemic, general distrust of government and people not having the time to be concerned. 

“Some of them actually have to work multiple jobs,” Swanson said. 

Dr. Potter says the earliest we will see some 2020 census data is March 6. 

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