A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
for non-partisan automated congressional redistricting.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. The Election Code, is amended to add Chapter 279, Congressional Redistricting, to read as follows:
§ 279.001. Conflict and Severability.
Any conflicting provisions of the Texas code are hereby repealed, and if any provisions of this act are found to be unconstitutional, the remaining provisions shall remain in full force and effect.
§ 279.002. Schedule and Effect of Congressional Districts.
(1) The source code for the production version of the computer redistricting software and the database shall be made accessible for downloading from the web site of the Texas Legislative Council (hereafter TLC) for public examination and comment, and to be shared with other states and communities, at no cost.
(2) Changes to the production version of computer redistricting software and the database shall be suspended from September 1 of each odd-numbered year until it is used by the end of November of that year to draw the districts to be used in the next general election, unless the TLC shall order remediations.
(3) Public hearings shall be held during that September to identify any problems with the software or database. Needed changes shall be made and approved by the TLC by October 20 of that year.
(4) During November of that year a number of congressional district maps equal to twice the number of members of the TLC shall be automatically generated according to the specifications set forth in § 279.003.
(5) Maps generated according to (4) shall be reviewed by members of the TLC, each member shall have the right to reject one map; and the final map shall then be selected at random from among those maps remaining, which shall go into effect for the next election, and shall remain in effect for the members of the United States House of Representatives elected during that election until the end of their session preceding inauguration of the next-elected members; but a successor district map may go into effect as provided above for the following election, if authorized by this code.
§ 279.003. Specifications for Automatic Redistricting Software.
(1) The initial software to be used is the Target package, written in the Scheme language, with a user interface written in Visual Basic, which has already been developed as of the date of the enabling Act for this code.
(2) The TLC shall have the authority to substitute other computer software of equal or greater capabilities, with such further development as may be directed by the TLC, but any such software must be authorized to be fully disclosed and shared with the public, and each must generate maps randomly so that each map is unpredictable except for meeting the specifications or constraints set forth in (4) below.
(3) The number of congressional districts shall be that which is set by United States law, and the database shall contain the relevant data from the most recent national census.
(4) The specifications for the automatic redistricting software shall be as follows:
(a) The population of each district shall not differ from that of any of the other districts by more than a factor of 0.0001.
(b) Only counties with a population of more than a factor of 0.1 of the average population of a congressional district may be split, unless a larger number must be split to meet the specification (a) above, and a smaller number of counties shall be split if specification (a) can be met.
(c) Districts must be contiguous.
(d) Districts must be simply connected, so that any continuous loop of points within the district may be shrunk to a point within the district.
(e) Districts shall be maximally compact, resulting from a running time of at least 6 and not to exceed 24 hours, with compactness defined by minimizing the value of p²/4pA, where p = perimeter and A = area of the district.
(f) Such other specifications as may be required by United States law or court decision, provided that such specifications unambiguously define a directive to the computer software, and not a particular map.
§ 279.004. Supervision of the Automatic Redistricting Operation.
(1) The actual operation of the software to automatically generate the maps shall be subject to supervision of a county grand jury, the county to be selected at random, or their deputies or experts, who shall be charged to insure that there is no tampering with the software, database, or operation of the systems involved.
(2) If feasible and permissible under United States law, the software shall run on a restricted database containing only the information needed to meet the above specifications.
SECTION 2. This Act takes effect September 1, 2003.