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Timing is Everything

When is a filing deadline not a filing deadline? When you don't have maps.

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When is a filing deadline not a filing deadline? When you don't have maps.

The three-judge federal panel in San Antonio, trying to figure out what to do with the unraveling election schedule, extended the candidate filing deadline until Monday of next week. But they also said they'll have another filing period whenever there's a legal set of maps and that candidates will be allowed to file, to amend filings already made, or to withdraw and get their money back. They waived residency requirements for now, giving contestants a chance to move into their desired districts once those districts are drawn.

It'll be next month, at the earliest, before this is sorted out. Here's where things stand.

• The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Texas case on January 9, after getting briefs from the various lawyers on December 21 and responses on January 3.

• A three-judge federal panel in Washington that is deciding whether to pre-clear the maps drawn by the Legislature will hold hearings January 17, with final arguments set for February 3. That's being done under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act; broadly speaking, they're looking to see whether those maps reduced minority communities' influence over elections.

• The San Antonio panel's work is being graded by the Supremes. Meanwhile, that court is deciding what to do with the primaries that are scheduled for March 6. They'll have a hearing on January 12.

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State government 2012 elections Redistricting Texas Legislature