2022 Texas primary elections could be delayed due to redistricting

After the Census Bureau flew past its statutory deadlines to release redistricting data, it was only a matter of time before the effects rippled to the timeline of the next election cycle.

The Texas Senate approved Senate Bill (SB) 1822 last week from Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), the chair of the Senate Jurisprudence and Redistricting committees, that would establish a new timetable for the 2022 primary elections depending on when redistricting is completed.

While at this time in a typical redistricting year the Texas legislature would have already received redistricting data and been well on their way to drawing new maps, this decade’s data is not expected until late summer or early fall.

State lawmakers are expected to convene later in the year during a special session at the call of the governor in order to conduct redistricting.

SB 1822 would establish three different timetables under which the primary election would be held, depending on when new districts are redrawn.

In addition to the different primary and runoff election dates, Huffman’s bill would also tighten the window of time that candidates are able to file for a place on the general primary election ballot.

Current law gives a window of 30 days to candidates to file for a position on the ballot, but SB 1822 would tighten that down to a two-week period for the four offices that will be affected by redistricting — the State Board of Education, state House, state Senate, and federal congressional districts.

The potential election dates and filing windows are as follows:

If redistricting plans are completed by Nov. 22, 2021:

Primary Election: March 1

Runoff Election: May 24

Candidate Filing Period: Nov. 29-Dec. 13

If redistricting plans are completed by Jan. 3, 2022:

Primary Election: April 5

Runoff Election: June 21

Candidate Filing Period: Jan. 10-24

If redistricting plans are completed by Feb. 14:

Primary Election: May 24

Runoff Election: July 26

Candidate Filing Period: Feb. 21-Mar. 7

In the scenario that maps for different offices are completed under different deadlines above, the filing periods for candidates would also come at different times but the 2022 primary and runoff election dates would fall at the latest time.

The primary election for other offices that do not require redistricting — such as the major statewide elections for governor, attorney general, and others — will fall at the same time as the other elections.

If new maps have still not been drawn after Valentine’s Day, then the secretary of state will set the dates of the filing period and elections for any offices that still have no redistricting plan in place.

SB 1822 was approved unanimously by the Senate, but still needs approval from the House before it can become law.

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