What does this week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Arizona redistricting case mean for the world of election administration? We know it gives a green light to the use of ballot referenda and initiatives to create the kind of nonpartisan redistricting commission that Arizona and California have, and that is potentially a huge development in the world of redistricting itself. We know, too, that the jurisprudential debate between Justice Ruth Ginsburg opinion for the Court’s five-member majority (including the all-important swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy) and Chief Justice John Roberts for the four dissenters has the potential for overarching theoretical significance concerning the nature of appropriate judicial interpretation of the U.S. Constitution—as I’ve already touched on elsewhere. But in terms of the rules and institutions for administering the voting process itself, is this week’s decision of particular significance? Yes. For two reasons.
First, more narrowly, a variety of voting-related rules were potentially threatened if the decision had gone the other way. As had been raised during the litigation of the case, and as specifically mentioned by Justice Ginsburg in her opinion for the Court, several states had used the procedure of ballot initiatives to make changes to their voting rules.
For example, Oregon had used the initiative to shorten the deadline to register to vote to only 20 days. If the Supreme Court had adopted a literal reading of the U.S. Constitution, as Chief Justice Roberts and the three other dissenters urged, then this Oregon rule (and others like it) would have been invalid.
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.