WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday filed a lawsuit accusing a Texas county of adopting an electoral map that discriminates against Black and Hispanic voters.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Texas, seeks to block implementation of Galveston County’s 2021 redistricting plan for its governing body, the Commissioners Court.
The Justice Department alleged the map was adopted “for a discriminatory purpose” and “results in Black and Hispanic citizens not having an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.”
The Justice Department contended officials in the heavily Republican county deliberately redrew an electoral map to eliminate the only precinct that was previously made up of a majority of Black and Hispanic residents.
A Galveston County spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit marks the third time in recent months that the Biden administration has challenged voting procedures adopted by Texas Republicans.
In November, the Justice Department sued Texas officials over a state law known as Texas Senate Bill 1 that places strict curbs on voting by mail. That lawsuit remains pending.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has defended the law, saying it is aimed at clamping down on voter fraud.
Republican lawmakers in a number of politically significant states have passed a wave of new voting requirements and limits, saying the measures are needed to curb voter fraud, despite scant evidence of it in the United States.
Backers of the measures cite Republican former President Donald Trump’s baseless claim that fraud underlay his presidential election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
Democrats and voting rights advocates have sued state officials over the laws, denouncing the efforts as partisan power grabs that will disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color.
(Reporting by Jan WolfeEditing by Marguerita Choy)