The deadline for candidates to file for the November general election has been extended because of redistricting.
The deadline, originally set for Thursday, has been moved to 6 p.m. on Dec. 19.
"The Texas Attorney General's Office is committed to protecting the integrity of Texas' elections by ensuring they are conducted based on legally constructed redistricting maps,” Texas Attorney General Abbott said in a statement.
Caesar Roy, chairman of the Cherokee County Democratic Party, said controversy over the state's redistricting map have caused problems for the state legislature. He said he received a court order on Wednesday requiring he keep accepting candidate applications.
“It has to do with, the whole thing, about redistricting,” Roy said. “I'm surprised it affects us locally, but according to the court order all the filings for state, federal and local offices would be extended until the 19th.”
The Texas Legislature redrew district lines for U.S. House districts, as well as state House and Senate districts, earlier this year as required by population numbers reported in the 2010 Census. Those numbers report population growth of 4.3 million, which earned Texas an additional four seats in the U.S. House, bringing the state’s total to 36.
Several Democrats and other groups filed suits on the new maps; however, arguing, among other things, that the maps, as drawn by the Republican-majority legislature, fail to accurately reflect minority growth in the state.
Under the Voting Rights Act, Texas redistricting maps require approval from either the U.S. Department of Justice or a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. Texas went the second route but the judges refused to clear the proposed maps without a trial.
A federal court, in San Antonio, drew and instituted interim maps to serve for the filing period, primaries and November elections until a trial on the matter could be held. Maps that varied considerably in some areas of the state from what legislators approved.
“The interim court in San Antonio, while we are waiting for it to get approved, they issued new maps for the state of Texas, drawn by the district court,” Roy said. “The Supreme Court said, 'No you can't use those maps until we see the case,' and they will do that Jan. 9.”
Not yet addressed was the issue of election dates. Presently, both the Republican and Democratic Party primaries are scheduled jointly for March 6 in Cherokee County. That date could be delayed, or the election could be split because the state’s redistricting maps remain in flux.
“We're in an uproar right now in terms of what is going to happen,” Roy said. “The district court said we are going to extend the deadline. I think they did that so we can reach a compromise.”
Cherokee County Republican Party Chairman Stephen Looney was not available for comment by press deadline.