May 8, 2018

Su Voto Es Su Voz

by Rep. Ryan Guillen

A few sessions ago, the legislature established Willie Velaquez Day, in honor of his outstanding contributions to voter education and to the civil rights movement in Texas. Founder of the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, Velasquez inspired a movement that led 2.5 million Americans to become registered voters and participate in our democratic process. As Texas honors Velaquez and his legacy this week, we would be remiss not to touch on our modern day electoral woes… redistricting.

Gerrymandering

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering a Texas redistricting case that could ultimately result in big changes to the state's political maps. But the courts have taken seven years to get this far. Formally known as Abbott v. Perez, the case dates back to 2011 and involves fights over three sets of political maps and includes findings of intentional discrimination and unconstitutional racial gerrymandering.

Back to the Drawing Board

Despite the fact that changes to the current map would have a limited impact—with only one election remaining in the ten year cycle—the decision will shape Texas elections for the next decade. In only a few short years, the legislature will go back to the drawing board with hopes of passing electoral maps for the 2022-2030 election cycles.

Voices For Change

Velasquez and others who fought to educate citizens and convert them into active voters did so by impressing upon them the importance of political participation, coining the phrase "Su Voto Es Su Voz" meaning "Your Vote Is Your Voice." No matter your politics, we all want what's best for our families and communities in South Texas. To do so, we need to make our voices heard.