The Congress Card Cycle Goes Into Court: Ballots and Limits

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Congressional mapping is done, but it’s not done.

Now that the New Hampshire Supreme Court has finalized tiny changes in both districts of the state, we are firmly in the litigation phase of the 10-year remapping. As you can see in the map below, challenges to new US House District boundaries in 15 states are pending in federal courts, state courts, or both.

The lawsuits allege partisan gerrymandering or claim the cards violate voting rights law and intentionally dilute black voting power. Some disputes that originated in state court have moved to federal court, including lawsuits in Arkansas and North Carolina.

Redistricting litigants will pay particular attention to a United States Supreme Court case out of Alabama.

At issue is whether the Alabama map violated federal suffrage law by including only one district where black voters would have the opportunity to elect the representative of their choice. The state, which has seven congressional districts, is 27% black.

The Supreme Court has said in the past that the law prohibits states from drawing voting lines in a way that dilutes the power of racial and ethnic minorities. — Jennifer Kay

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: FINAL MAP
The last state to complete congressional redistricting turned out to have one of the easiest solutions. The New Hampshire Supreme Court adopted a map that moved only five towns between the state’s two districts.

Source: Special Masters, Stanford Professor of Law, Nathaniel Persily

This plan is closer to what Democrats have been seeking than the broader remappings of Republican lawmakers that have been blocked by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto pen. — Greg Giroux

Impact of redistricting: member against member

6th from Illinois (D-vs-D): representing Sean Castenwho opposes Rep. Mary Newmann in a primary on June 28, released a television ad that highlighted his support for abortion rights. A fundraising appeal from Newman calls Casten a “former CEO and fossil fuel lobbyist” who “refused to support legislation that would extend Medicare to all Americans.”

15th from Illinois (R-vs-R): Rep. Mary Millerwho faces Rep. Rodney Davis in northern Illinois, highlights his vote against and Davis’ vote for the law (Public Law 117-128) that provided more than $40 billion in emergency funding to Ukraine. Miller was one of 57 House members, all Republicans, who voted no.

11th in Michigan (D-vs-D): Rep. haley stevens and Andy Levin debated at Oakland University near Detroit. Watch it here. — Greg Giroux

Election law

ARIZONA: ASK
In some states, eligible people are automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license. A new Arizona law (HB 2236) prohibits agencies from registering people to vote without their request.

In addition to signing that law, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) vetoed a Republican-sponsored election bill (HB 2617) that would have ordered county recorders to void voter registrations when they receive information that a person is “not a qualified voter. “The changes are too vague and could allow “bad actors” to make misrepresentations, Ducey said in his veto letter. — Brenna Goth

MARYLAND: NO CHANGE
The Maryland legislature has adjourned, so if lawmakers want a faster vote count, they’ll have to try again next year. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed bills (HB 862 and SB 163) that would have allowed election officials to pre-process mail-in ballots and allowed voters to “correct” or correct signature errors on mail-in ballots.

The bills lacked security measures — verification of signatures and restrictions on the collection of ballots — that are necessary in an electoral system increasingly conducted by mail, Hogan said in his veto letter. —Alex Ebert

MISSISSIPPI: JIM CROW DECISION
Now that Mississippi has a new election law, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a Jim Crow-era requirement for naturalized citizens to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

Legislation (HB 1510) signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves (R) in April repealed this requirement and instead implemented additional database verification in the voter registration process to verify that candidates are American citizens. Secretary of State Michael Watson (right), the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance and the League of Women Voters of Mississippi jointly called for the lawsuit to be dismissed. — Jennifer Kay

Caught our attention

  • Colorado’s June 28 primary will test how well the state’s Republicans are embracing 2020 election plots. (The Colorado Sun)
  • The Kansas Supreme Court has blocked policy changes. (The Topeka Capital-Journal)
  • Democrats have tried to follow Republican gerrymandering – and everyone loses. (The New Yorker)

Each card

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