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Texas primary moves to May 29

The date for the primary election in Texas has slipped again -- this time to May 29th.

The panel of three federal judges in charge of re-drawing boundaries for congressional and legislative districts issued an order Thursday setting the date and providing July 31 as the date for a runoff.

The primary was originally set for Super Tuesday -- March 6.  But a legal battle over the district boundaries forced a move to April 3.  Now the election has been delayed once more, and it could be shifted yet again if further court fights erupt.

Here's the background.

Because of a population boom in Texas, the 2010 census gives the state four more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Nearly all that growth was among the Latino and African-American populations -- groups that tend to vote for Democrats. But the state legislature drew up a new map of congressional districts that virtually assured three of the new seats to Republicans.

Because Texas has a history of discriminating against minority groups at election time, the state was required to seek permission to use the new map, a process known as pre-clearance under the Voting Rights Act.  A federal court in Washington will rule shortly on the pre-clearance issue. 

In the meantime, a separate legal battlefront was opened when civil rights groups sued the state in federal court in Texas. A three-judge panel deemed the state map insufficient and drew up a map on its own to be used on an interim basis, just for this year's election.

But the U.S. Supreme Court, acting on an extremely fast schedule, ruled in late January that the court-drawn map failed to fully consider the legislature's concerns in adjusting district boundaries. This week, the Texas court issued revised maps and ordered new dates for the primary election.

The courts are not finished with the Texas map issue, because the Washington, D.C., panel of judges has yet to rule on the pre-clearance issue. Democrats and minority groups in Texas, who believe the revised map gives Republicans too many of the new seats, are hoping a ruling will keep their legal fight alive.