GALVESTON - Stating Galveston County's redistricting plan have not been precleared in accordance to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a federal judge ruled against its implementation.

U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt of the Southern District of Texas issued an order enjoining the implementation of voting changes Nov. 21, preventing the county from using redrawn maps in upcoming elections.

"It is the responsibility of the defendants to take reasonable measures to ensure that the appropriate elected and administrative officials in the county as well as affected political parties and entities are timely notified of this order," Hoyt writes.

A group of Galveston County officials sued the county and County Judge Mark Henry over the plan earlier this month on allegations it would disenfranchise minority voters.

According to the original petition submitted Nov. 14 before the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas, the plan, which was adopted by the Galveston County Commissioners Court in August, eliminates the constable precincts and justice of the peace courts that were created by an order issued in 1992 by merging them into one single, larger constable and justice of the peace precinct.

The complainants assert "the proposed plan also reduces the percentage of African American and Latino voting age population in all of the newly proposed precincts."

African and Hispanic Americans combine for 84,000 of the 290,000 that call Galveston County home as of 2010, court papers show.

Hoyt also ruled for the designation of a three-judge panel tasked with hearing and determining the claims.

Case No. 3:11-cv-511

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