Comal County Commissioners will consider several measures associated with the upcoming party primary elections during their weekly meeting on Thursday.
As they did twice earlier this year, commissioners will approve changes to several voting precincts due to U.S. House seat redistricting. In 2023, for the first time, New Braunfels will have four House districts — Districts 21 and 35 in Comal County, and 21, 28 and 35 in Guadalupe County.
Data from the 2020 U.S. Census of the community’s changing demographics are being used to redraw local, state and national voting districts and will determine control of both houses of the U.S. Congress, Texas Legislature, as well as city and county governments beginning with the 2022 elections.
Both counties have to set voting precincts for the March 1 party primaries and May 24 runoffs despite the U.S. Justice Department’s recently-filed suit against Texas redistricting maps it says discriminate against minority voters who fueled the state’s population boom in the past decade.
In New Braunfels, District 35 runs right through the eastern fringe of Comal County. It includes Hunter Road to the west then cuts southeast along the Interstate 35 access and main lanes before it slants west along Morningside Drive and County Line Road to the east.
For years, District 35 has cut through the middle of New Braunfels, though the latest redistricting will shift its western boundary with District 21 from Landa Street to Interstate 35.
Commissioners will consider a redistricting plan for voting precincts, which are still mandated by election law despite the introduction of countywide polling centers. Each must average around 5,000 county voters, and Comal County’s number will increase from 29 to 34 in 2022.
Elections Administrator Cynthia Jaqua said Thursday’s proposal has several geographical components. Precinct 202 will be divided along the line dividing both of Comal’s U.S. House districts. Its southern half will remain intact and within District 35; its northern half will be incorporated into Precinct 205.
Precinct 301 will keep its current boundaries, which will all be within District 21. Precinct 302 will be divided the same as Precinct 202, but its northern portion will become Precinct 308, located in District 21, and its southern portion remaining as Precinct 302, also within Congressional District 35.
Precinct 304 will also be split along the congressional dividing line, with its western side becoming Precinct 307 within District 21 and its eastern half remaining as Precinct 304 within District 35.
The county has four representative precincts, each served by a commissioner, justice of the peace and constable. For redistricting purposes that mandated about 40,000 residents to each precinct, commissioners in October shifted part of Precinct 2 into District 1. That forced another change for county precincts also proposed Thursday and will affect portions of Precincts 204, 208 and 209 and create a new Precinct 110.
The portion of Precinct 204 north of State Highway 46 will remain the same, with the southern portion shifted into Precinct 110, which will absorb all of what’s currently Precinct 208. Because the county can’t skip a number, Precinct 209 will become the new Precinct 208.
If that isn’t confusing enough, commissioners will consider approving a resolution calling for a joint party primary for Democrats and Republicans on March 1, 2022 and runoff elections, if necessary, on May 24, 2022.
Guadalupe County elections administrator Lisa Hayes said commissioners are getting closer to completing boundary changes associated with redistricting.
“There are only a few voting precincts that have actually had to be redrawn due to the county commissioner’s (precinct) lines being changed, or U.S. District 35 going away, or (Texas) Senate (District) 19 being added to our county,” she said on Wednesday. “There was a huge effort on the part of our commissioners court to keep the majority of existing election precinct lines intact, but there are a few changes, in addition to changes to federal and state (representative boundary) lines.
“Some (precincts) may be renumbered due to moving from one commissioner’s precinct to another. (Any changes) approved through Commissioners Court within the next few weeks will be posted on our website.”
Commissioners will meet at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Commissioners Courtroom, 100 Main Plaza in New Braunfels. The meeting will be live-streamed to the public; to access the video and agenda, visit www.co.comal.tx.us/agenda.htm.