Austin City Council races are staggered, with an alternating set of five on the ballot every two years — ensuring a four-year term for each.
But following redistricting after the 2020 Census, where every state legislative district is on the ballot, voters will only see five of Austin’s council districts before them in November. Due to the redrawn lines, some voters in the city will have new representatives for whom they could not vote last election.
As it stands, only districts 1, 3, 5, 8, and 9 are set to appear on ballots in November.
Back in March, a group of plaintiffs represented by former Travis County Judge Bill Aleshire challenged the status quo by filing a lawsuit to put all 10 districts on the ballot this year.
Each plaintiff is a voter who saw their district change from one that is on this year’s ballot to one that is not. According to the lawsuit, 24,000 voters across the city fall into this category. Over the weekend, the plaintiffs filed a motion for rehearing with the Texas Supreme Court asking for at least an opinion explaining the court’s reasoning for not granting their request.
“What is clear is that even today, and until January 6, 2025, there are tens of thousands of Austin voters who are represented by Council Members who have not received the ‘consent of the governed,’” reads the motion.
The city’s counterargument is that placing all 10 up for a vote would violate its charter and that it is too late in the election cycle to make such a change.
Making their appeal to the court, the plaintiffs said, “By denying relief to the Cheatham Relators without explanation in an opinion, the Court still has not explained what the law is related to this ‘most fundamental individual liberty’ of having a vote equal to other voters.”
“For future original proceedings, the Court has not even explained what makes this case not ‘a proper case’ or “properly presented’ to clarify the law for Texas Courts and the voters.”
As it stands, no changes will be made to the Austin City Council ballot — which means that Councilmembers Vanessa Fuentes, Chito Vela, Mackenzie Kelly, Leslie Pool, and Alison Alter will not face re-election this year.
Early voting in Texas begins on October 24.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.