The Texas legislature is once again in special session, this time to draw new maps — congressional, state senate, state house, and state board of education districts. The maps proposed are an exercise in using power to maintain power in that the districts are drawn to increase the number of districts that likely to be won by Republicans who already hold a majority that is not supported by the actual vote counts.

The Republican leadership has employed an out of state expert whose primary qualification for the job is successfully slicing up communities to enable Republicans to win more districts with fewer votes. The techniques for doing this are known as packing and cracking. Packing is when the mapmaker jams as many voters of the opposing party into as few districts as possible so while the opposition is guaranteed to win those seats they don’t have enough voters in other districts to win any others. Cracking is when the mapmaker spreads out opposition voters across enough districts that they can’t possibly achieve a majority in any of them. Careful use of such tactics has enabled Republicans to hold 64% congressional seats with only 52% of votes going to Republicans in 2020.

JC Dufresne is a liberal activist and current member of the State Democratic Executive Committee, representing Senate District 25.

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