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House District Requirements

Section 26, Article III, of the Texas Constitution, as applied by the state and federal courts in conjunction with federal law, requires that house districts be apportioned among the counties according to the federal census population and the following rules:

  (1) a county with sufficient population for exactly one district must be formed into a single   district;

  (2) a county with a population smaller than the population needed for a whole district   must be kept whole and combined with one or more contiguous counties to form a district;

  (3) a county that has sufficient population for two or more whole districts must be divided   into that number of districts, with no district extending into another county; and

  (4) each county with a population sufficient for one or more whole districts plus a fraction   of another district must be divided into that many whole districts, with the excess   population added to one or more contiguous counties to form an additional district.

In practice, it is sometimes impossible to draw a statewide plan that completely satisfies these rules while maintaining districts with equal populations. The Texas courts have allowed a house plan to violate these rules to the extent necessary to draw a plan that complies with the one-person, one-vote requirement.

Section 28, Article III, of the Texas Constitution requires the legislature to redistrict state house districts during the first regular session following publication of the decennial census. If the legislature fails to do so, the redistricting task falls to the Legislative Redistricting Board.

The Texas Legislative Council, a nonpartisan legislative service agency, provides technical and legal support to the Texas legislature for redistricting.