Life, Death, and Voting Rights in the Texas Colonias
By Michael Seifert
I was invited to come forward and so I walked through a high-vaulted room filled with attorneys. Three black-robed judges looked down at me from their seats high above us all. The judge in charge, a stately looking woman, smiled and welcomed me. Another woman came up and made me promise to tell the truth. The Whole Truth. I did so promise, and I took my seat.
I was in Washington, D.C., in early January, having been asked to be a witness at the hearings before the Third District Court in the matter of the State of Texas’ efforts to redraw election districts. Texas’ new maps were supposed to take into account the extraordinary growth in Latino constituents so that these communities would be fairly represented in the affairs of Texas and the nation.
My region, the Rio Grande Valley, by any standard of fairness that I could appreciate, was being cheated out of this representation. The extraordinary growth in population meant that we should have had additional districts drawn for us, creating more legislators to represent our interests. The new maps that the state had proposed offered us even poorer representation than we had had before.