During a lull between elections, the Supreme Court is taking on a hot-button political issue that could change the way legislative lines are drawn across the country. It’s called gerrymandering — a term that arises from a district shaped like a salamander that was drawn during the 1810 term of Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry. Two hundred years later, legal experts are still divided on the racial and partisan considerations at issue. Earlier this month, Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority of the Supreme Court, tore up two congressional district maps in North Carolina, holding that they amounted to an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. “A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines,” she wrote, referencing a 1993 court standard, “unless it has a compelling reason.”
National: Rep. Adam Schiff says alleged Russian meddling in election was an effort to destroy American democracy | Los Angeles Times
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said Tuesday that the alleged Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election was about far more than favoring one candidate over another. He said it was an effort to undermine the foundation of American democracy in order to prop up an authoritarian regime in Moscow. “Now if you look at this as just a one-off intervention, you might be inclined to dismiss the greater significance of it, or if you listen to the president, you might be inclined to dismiss this as simply efforts to relitigate a lost election,” Schiff told several hundred people at UC Irvine. “But the significance is really far greater. Quite separate and apart from the desire of the Russians to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton was a more fundamental objective, and that was really to tear down at our democracy.”
Editorials: Kobach ‘Voter Fraud’ Commission Gets Fast Thumbs Down | Miles Rapoport/The American Prospect
The Kobach Commission (sometimes referred to as the Pence Commission) on voter fraud was created in the way so many things have been in the Trump administration. It started with an angry and completely unsubstantiated tweet, echoing a campaign trope, followed by public statements doubling down on the message, followed by a half-baked executive order. The Commission was created to investigate the allegations of Trump’s alternative universe, where massive voter fraud cost the president millions of votes. The true voter fraud—creating obstacles to the right to vote—is not part of its mandate. Kris Kobach is of course the perfect choice. As Kansas secretary of state, he has made his reputation seeking to make it as difficult as possible for people in Kansas to vote, and by fanning the fantasy of massive voter fraud.
Last week, more than 100 years late, Alabama took an important step toward excising a toxic slice of white supremacy from its Constitution and restoring voting rights to perhaps thousands of people, disproportionately black, with criminal records. At the state’s constitutional convention in 1901, lawmakers amended the Constitution to bar from voting anyone convicted of a crime involving “moral turpitude.” They didn’t define the phrase, but they were crystal clear about its intent: to preserve “white supremacy in this state” and fight the “menace of Negro domination” at the ballot box, as the convention’s president said.
Georgia: Who gets to vote in 6th District? Politicians already decided | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Who gets to vote and who doesn’t in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is more than an accident of geography. It’s also the result of decades of political shenanigans by Democrats and Republicans alike. State legislators have dramatically redrawn the 6th District’s boundaries to gain political advantage, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found. For decades, the district covered several counties west and southwest of Atlanta, all the way to the Alabama line. It never elected a Republican until 1978, when Newt Gingrich was elected to an open seat. But in 1991, Democrats tried to draw Gingrich out of his own district. They gave the 6th an entirely new footprint, centered on Cobb County.
Republicans and Democrats are ramping up their lobbying and public outreach efforts ahead of a pivotal New Hampshire House vote Thursday on a much-debated GOP voter identification reform bill. Republicans say it closes a “domicile loophole,” while Democrats say it’s an attempt to legislate “voter suppression.” House Majority Leader Richard Hinch, R-Merrimack, told WMUR he is confident the bill will “narrowly” pass the House, but a key conservative Republican lawmaker is not so sure.
North Carolina: Redistricting case involving 12th District returns to NC Supreme Court | Greensboro News & Record
The U.S. Supreme Court has told North Carolina’s top court to reconsider a redistricting lawsuit filed by Democrats and allies after the nation’s highest court struck down congressional districts as racial gerrymanders. The justices issued a two-sentence order Tuesday in the redistricting case that challenged 2011 congressional and General Assembly districts.
North Carolina: Hurricane, vote challenges prompt push for changes to North Carolina election rules | WRAL
Events from last fall might wind up being felt for years to come during North Carolina elections. The State Board of Elections has proposed several changes to elections rules following Hurricane Matthew and the contentious gubernatorial election. One proposed change would give the state elections director emergency authority to change election schedules following a natural disaster or a military conflict involving troop deployment.
Ohio: Redistricting reform amendment clears Ballot Board, can begin collecting signatures | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Supporters of an Ohio redistricting reform ballot initiative can begin collecting signatures to put the measure before voters next year. The Ohio Ballot Board on Tuesday certified the proposed Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Reform Amendment as one ballot issue. The measure borrows much of its language from the 2015 ballot issue that made changes to the state legislative redistricting process. The League of Women Voters of Ohio and other supporters, calling themselves Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio, say the measure would rein in partisan gerrymandering when district lines are drawn, which happens every 10 years.
German intelligence has informed the United States that it is not looking for help staving off the same kind of election hacking attributed to Russia during the U.S. campaign, NBC News reported Tuesday. The refusal is “a sign of the lack of trust that seems to be growing between Germany and the United States,” NBC said. The German election pitting conservative Prime Minister Angela Merkel against her party’s center-left opposition is seen as a potential target for hacking efforts similar to those Russia used against the U.S. last year. The German opposition party, the Social Democrats, were thought to take a far gentler position against Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in the past, though candidate Martin Schulz has warned against the lifting of sanctions.