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Prof. Justin Levitt's Doug Spencer's Guide to Drawing the Electoral Lines

State Summary

Texas’ congressional lines are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.

The legislature is also primarily responsible for drawing state legislative lines. If it fails to pass a plan, authority falls to a five-member backup commission, comprising the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the state House, the state Attorney General, the Comptroller of Public Accounts, and the Commissioner of the General Land Office.

In 2020, the legislature adopted new maps on Oct. 18, 2021. Gov. Abbott signed the new congressional (SB 6), state Senate (SB 4), and state House (HB 1) districts into law on Oct. 25, 2021.

The congressional maps have been challenged in federal court as racial gerrymanders in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The state legislative maps have been challenged as invalid under a state constitutional provision that state districts be drawn by the state legislature “at its first regular session after the publication of each United States decennial census.” [Tx. Const. art. III § 28] The first regular session does not convene until Jan. 2023.

In the 2010 cycle, Texas was subject to preclearance under the federal Voting Rights Act.  The legislature passed a congressional map (SB 4) on June 24, 2011, which was signed on July 18, and passed state Senate (SB 31) and state House (HB 150) plans on May 23, 2011, which were signed on June 17.  All maps were submitted to a DC federal court, which denied preclearance.  A federal court in San Antonio drew interim maps for the 2012 elections, on Feb. 28, 2012.  On June 21, 2013, the state legislature passed congressional (SB 4) and state Senate (SB 2) plans, formally enacting the federal court’s interim maps as permanent plans; on June 24, 2013, the legislature passed a state House plan (SB 3), which largely followed the court’s interim map.  All three were signed by the governor on June 26, 2013.   One state House district was later struck on grounds that race predominated in the drawing of the district, without adequate justification; the district (HD 90) was redrawn on May 28, 2019.

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Key Info for 2000 Cycle

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Primary governing law

Key Info for 2010 Cycle

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Primary governing law

Key Info for 2020 Cycle

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Primary governing law

Data

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The Latest Updates

Oct 25, 2021
Oct 25, 2021
Gov. Abbott signed new congressional (SB 6), state Senate (SB 4), and state House (HB 1) maps into law.  
Oct 25, 2021
Governor Greg Abbott approved Texas’ new political maps for the state’s congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts.
Oct 18, 2021
The Texas state legislature adopted a final congressional map that was negotiated by a conference committee. The maps now move to Gov. Abbott's desk for his signature.  
Oct 17, 2021
A conference committee will meet to reconcile differences between the congressional maps adopted by the state House and Senate. The negotiated final map will require approval from both chambers before they adjourn on Oct. 19, 2021.
Oct 13, 2021
The Texas House approved a new redistricting plan (H2136) for its own 150 districts. House Bill 1 now moves to the state Senate for approval.
Oct 13, 2021
The Texas House Redistricting Committee advanced the state Senate's proposed congressional maps to the full chamber with no revisions or amendments  
Oct 8, 2021
The Texas Senate adopted a new congressional redistricting plan. Senate Bill 6 now moves to the state House for debate and approval. The final plan must also be signed by Gov. Abbott.
Oct 4, 2021
The Texas Senate adopted a new redistricting plan for the state Senate. Senate Bill 4 now moves to the state House for debate and approval.
Sep 28, 2021
The Texas Senate Special Redistricting Committee voted 12-2 to advance Senate Bill 4, a proposal for new state senate maps, to the full legislature for debate.
Sep 18, 2021
Texas state Senator Joan Huffman, chair of the Senate Special Redistricting Committee, published the committee's first draft of congressional districts using 2020 Census data. The Texas Legislature begins a 30-day special session on Sept. 20 to finalize its congressional and state legislative maps.
Feb 4, 2021
State Representative Todd Hunter was selected as chairman of the state's Redistricting Committee.
Jan 25, 2021
The Texas Senate Special Committee on Redistricting began holding regional hearings on redistricting.
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Institution

Texas’ congressional lines are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.

The legislature is also primarily responsible for drawing state legislative lines. If it fails to pass a plan, authority falls to a five-member backup commission, in place since 1948. The commission consists of the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the state House, the state Attorney General, the Comptroller of Public Accounts, and the Commissioner of the General Land Office. [Tex. Const. art. III, § 28]

The members (and records) of the state Senate redistricting committee are here; the state House redistricting committee is here.

Timing

Texas state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, though candidates must file for congressional primary elections by Dec. 13, 2021. [Tex. Elec. Code § 172.023(a)]

The legislature’s deadline for drawing state legislative lines is the end of the first legislative session after the census; that session began on Jan. 12, 2021, and is currently scheduled to end on May 31, 2021. If the legislature fails to pass a plan by then, the backup commission will be convened within 90 days, and must pass a state legislative plan within 60 days of convening. [Tex. Const. art. III, § 28]  Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by Dec. 13, 2021. [Tex. Elec. Code § 172.023(a)]

Texas ties the drawing of state legislative lines to the Census, and might therefore be construed to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade, if the legislature (and not a court) has already conducted redistricting. There is no similar provision pertaining to congressional lines. [Tex. Const. art. III, § 28]

Public input

The Senate Select Committee on Redistricting has created a public input portal for public comment.

The legislature has also announced that there will be opportunities to testify at legislative committee hearings, and to submit proposed district plans to the legislature when the new Census data are available.   The meeting schedule will be posted here.

In the past, the legislature has provided public access to the state’s redistricting software (RedAppl), through workstations in the Capitol Complex in Austin, and it anticipates providing such access in 2021, though specific procedures are still forthcoming.  Members of the public who wish to submit proposals may use this software, or any other software that produces a standard block equivalency file.

Criteria

Like all states, Texas must comply with constitutional equal population requirements; the state constitution further asks that state House districts be equally populated, “as nearly as may be.” [Tex. Const. art. III, § 26]

Texas must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.

The state constitution further requires that state legislative districts be contiguous, and that they preserve whole counties when population mandates permit. [Tex. Const. art. III, §§ 25-26]  Legislative districts may also be drawn as multimember districts. [Mauzy v. Legislative Redistricting Board, 471 S.W.2d 570 (Tex. 1971)]

2010 cycle

In the 2010 cycle, Texas was subject to preclearance under the federal Voting Rights Act.

Several lawsuits were almost immediately brought in state and federal court, challenging the malapportionment of existing districts, and asking the courts to assume jurisdiction and draw lines themselves.

The Texas legislature passed a congressional map (SB 4) on June 24, 2011, which was signed on July 18, and passed state Senate (SB 31) and state House (HB 150) plans on May 23, 2011, which were signed on June 17.  All maps were submitted to a DC federal court for preclearance; on Nov. 8, 2011, the court denied Texas’ motion for summary judgment, sending the question to trial, and on Aug. 28, 2012, the court refused to preclear each of the three maps.  [Texas v. United States, 887 F. Supp. 2d 133 (D.D.C. 2012), vacated, 570 U.S. 928 (2013); Texas v. United States, 831 F. Supp. 2d 244 (D.D.C. 2011)]

The initial denial of preclearance in 2011 forced a federal court in San Antonio to draw interim maps for the 2012 elections.  On Nov. 23 and 26, 2011, that court released interim plans (congressional order and mapstate Senate order and mapstate House order and map).  [Perez v. Perry, No. 5:11-cv-00360 (W.D. Tex. Nov. 26, 2011) (Congress); Davis v. Perry, No. 5:11-cv-00788, 2011 WL 6207134 (W.D. Tex. Nov. 23, 2011) (state Senate); Perez v. Perry, 835 F. Supp. 2d 209 (W.D. Tex. 2011) (state House); Perez v. Perry, No. 5:11-cv-00360 (W.D. Tex. Dec. 2, 2011) (supplemental opinion)]

On Jan. 20, 2012, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded for the San Antonio court to redraw and/or re-explain its work, deferring to Texas’s enacted plan 1) except for those portions where there is a “likelihood of success” on a challenge under the Constitution or section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and 2) except for those portions where there is a “reasonable probability” that an aspect of the plan will cause it to be denied preclearance. On Feb. 28, 2012, the court issued new plans (congressional order and mapstate Senate order and mapstate House order and map).  [Perez v. Perry, No. 5:11-cv-00360, 2012 WL 13124278 (W.D. Tex. Mar. 19, 2012) (Congress); Davis v. Perry, No. 5:11-cv-00788 (W.D. Tex. Mar. 19, 2012) (state Senate); Perez v. Texas, No. 5:11-cv-00360, 2012 WL 13124275 (W.D. Tex. Mar. 19, 2012) (state House); Perry v. Perez, 132 S. Ct. 934 (2012)]

In 2013, the legislature returned to draft non-interim plans. On June 21, 2013, the state legislature passed congressional (SB 4) and state Senate (SB 2) plans, formally enacting the federal court’s interim maps; on June 24, 2013, the legislature passed a state House plan (SB 3), which largely followed the court’s interim map.  All three were signed by the governor on June 26, 2013.

The state Senate plans were challenged in federal court, and upheld.  [Evenwel v. Abbott, 136 S. Ct. 1120 (2016)]

The congressional and state House plans were also further challenged in federal court.  The congressional map was upheld; one state House district was struck on grounds that race predominated in the drawing of the district, without adequate justification.  That district (HD 90) was redrawn and accepted by the court on May 28, 2019.  [Perez v. Texas, No. 5:11-cv-00360 (W.D. Tex. May 28, 2019); Abbott v. Perez, 138 S. Ct. 2305 (2018); Perez v. Perry, 26 F. Supp. 3d 612 (W.D. Tex. 2014), dismissed for want of jurisdiction, 138 S. Ct. 739 (2018)]

Based on a finding that the 2011 map had been drawn with the intent to discriminate, litigants sought to subject Texas to further preclearance under the section 3 “bail-in” procedures of the Voting Rights Act.  The request was rejected.   [Perez v. Abbott, 390 F. Supp. 3d 803 (W.D. Tex. 2019); Perez v. Abbott, 253 F. Supp. 3d 864 (W.D. Tex. 2017) (Congress); Perez v. Abbott, 250 F. Supp. 3d 123 (W.D. Tex. 2017) (state House)]

2000 cycle

In the 2000 cycle, Texas was subject to preclearance under the federal Voting Rights Act.

The Texas legislature did not pass state legislative or congressional plans before adjourning on May 28, 2001. Several lawsuits were brought in state and federal court, challenging the malapportionment of existing districts, and asking the courts to assume jurisdiction and draw lines themselves.

The backup commission was convened to draw state legislative districts, which it did on July 24, 2001. The state Senate plan was precleared on Oct. 15, 2001. The state Senate plan was challenged in federal court, and upheld. [Balderas v. Texas, No. 6:01-CV-158 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 28, 2001)]

The backup commission’s state House plan drew an objection from the Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act. The state House plan had also been challenged in federal court, and after the Department of Justice’s objection, the federal court drew state House lines to correct the violation, on Nov. 28, 2001. [Balderas v. Texas, No. 6:01-CV-158 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 28, 2001)]

For congressional districts, when the legislature adjourned without drawing a plan, the process fell to the courts, in multiple proceedings ultimately consolidated in Travis County state trial court. On Oct. 10, 2001, this court adopted congressional districts, but that plan was vacated by the Texas Supreme Court on Oct. 19, 2001, on grounds that the trial court had not afforded the litigants due process in arriving at its plan. A parallel case had been proceeding in federal court, which drew congressional districts on Nov. 14, 2001, to govern the 2002 congressional elections. [Perry v. Del Rio, 67 S.W.3d 85 (Tex. 2001); Balderas v. Texas, Case No. 6:01-cv-158 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 14, 2001)]

When the legislature returned in 2003, it began to redraw congressional lines; the renewed redistricting was highly controversial, and state legislators twice fled the state in an attempt to deny the majority a quorum. A new congressional plan (HB 3) was eventually passed on Oct. 12, 2003, signed on Oct. 13, 2003, and precleared on Dec. 19, 2003. That plan was challenged in federal court, and struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court on Voting Rights Act grounds. The case was remanded to federal district court, which redrew the legislature’s congressional plan on Aug. 4, 2006, to correct the Voting Rights Act violations. [LULAC v. Perry, 548 U.S. 399 (2006); LULAC v. Perry, 457 F. Supp. 2d 716 (E.D. Tex. 2006)]

Redistricting Cases in Texas

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Texas | Federal Trial | Congress
Voto Latino v. Scott
PENDING - Federal court challenge to congressional map for vote dilution in violation of the VRA.
Last Updated Oct 25, 2021
Case Number

No. 1:21-cv-00965 (W.D. Tex.)

Cycle 2020
Texas | Federal Trial | Congress
LULAC v. Abbott
PENDING - Federal court challenge to congressional map for vote dilution in violation of the VRA.
Last Updated Oct 18, 2021
Case Number

No. 3:21-cv-00259 (W.D. Tex.)

Cycle 2020
Texas | Federal Trial | State Upper | State Lower | Process
Gutierrez v. Abbott
PENDING - Federal court challenge to legislative maps based on failure of political branches to enact new plans by constitutional deadline.
Last Updated Sep 1, 2021
Case Number

No. 1:21-cv-00769 (W. D. Tex.)

Cycle 2020

2020 Texas Maps Available for Download

Search all Cycles for Texas Maps >

Texas | 2020
2020 Texas Maps
Texas’ congressional lines are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gu...
Number of Maps 4
Last Updated Oct 22, 2021
Cycle 2020