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A proposal by Texas Republicans to change how Election Day polling places are distributed would reduce the number of polling places in areas with higher percentages of voters of color, according to an analysis conducted by The Texas Tribune [texastribune.org].
The bill would create a new formula for how polling places are set and would mostly affect Democratic counties with populations over 1 million, the Tribune reported. The bill would require counties to distribute polling places based on the number of registered voters within a county's state House district.
Under the proposed changes, the five largest counties in Texas would be affected: Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis. Collin County may also be affected depending on census figures that are released this year, the Tribune noted.
According to the Tribune's analysis, the bill would reduce the number of polling places only in districts represented by Democrats. It would remove 73 polling places across 13 Democratic-represented House districts and redistribute them across seven Republican-represented districts and two Democratic-represented districts.
According to the Tribune, the districts that would lose polling places are all represented by people of color and have significantly higher shares of voters of color when compared with the districts that would gain polling places.
Districts represented by Democrats tend to have fewer registered voters, the Tribune noted, as the Democratic-represented districts tend to have more people of color who are not eligible to vote.
House District 141, where approximately 86 percent of citizens who are of voting age are either Black or Hispanic, would lose the most seats at 11. The district is represented by Democrat Senfronia Thompson.
House District 132, where white citizens make up around 46 percent of the eligible voting population, would gain 18 polling places, the most out of any other district. The district is represented by Republican Mike Schofield.
Rural, mostly Republican-controlled areas would not be affected by the stricter polling place distribution rules, the Tribune reported.
The news outlet noted that counties generally consider other factors apart from the number of eligible voters when considering polling place distribution, such as which counties are more likely to vote by mail as well as convenience and traffic.