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Florida: Senate modifies redistricting map by altering Miami-Dade districts | Miami Herald

Faced with a close vote on a leadership-backed map to redraw state Senate districts, the Florida Senate agreed to modify three minority-based districts in Miami-Dade County on Tuesday, hoping to win the crucial votes needed to send the proposal to the House and win support for the revision in court. The sponsor of the amendment, Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Coral Gables, argued that change was needed to make the districts more compact, in compliance with the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the Florida Constitution, and to preserve the voting strength of Hispanic voters. He argued that the original map, which was drawn by House and Senate staff and approved on a party-line vote last week by the Senate Reapportionment Committee, diminished the ability of Hispanics to elect a candidate of their choice.

Full Article: Senate modifies redistricting map by altering Miami-Dade districts | Miami Herald.

Kansas: State agency spokeswoman calls League of Women Voters ‘left-wing’ agitators | The Wichita Eagle

A Brownback administration spokeswoman criticized the League of Women Voters on social media for promoting a college course aimed at registering to students to vote. The League is partnering with professors at Washburn, Emporia State and Fort Hays State universities to develop a lesson plan on Kansas voting laws that can be taught over a day or a week with the goal of helping college students successfully register to vote and enabling them to help their peers do the same. Angela de Rocha, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, panned the idea on Facebook. “So it takes an entire semester to learn how to register to vote. Really?” de Rocha wrote on Facebook around noon on Monday. “Do we want these slow learners voting? Or is this a stealth course paid for by taxpayers to train left-wing ‘community organizers’ like the League of Women Voters on how to agitate?”

Florida: Legislators propose six starter maps for Senate redistricting session | Tampa Bay Times

Florida House and Senate leaders on Wednesday released six staff-drawn base maps that reconfigure the state Senate boundaries which they will offer up to legislators as a starting point for the three-week special session that begins on Monday. That maps, each drawn by adhering to two different sets of standards, were designed to replace the enacted map produced by lawmakers in 2012, which legislative leaders conceded violated the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the Fair Districts amendments to the Florida Constitution. “We believe each map complies with the relevant legal standards contained in the Florida Constitution and federal law, including the Florida Supreme Court’s recent interpretations,” wrote House Redistricting Chairman Jose Oliva and Senate Redistricting Chairman Bill Galvano in a memo to legislators on Wednesday. 

Full Article: Legislators propose six starter maps for Senate redistricting session | Tampa Bay Times.

New Mexico: Failed amendments actually passed, group claims | Albuquerque Journal

Proposed changes to the state Constitution expanding when school elections can be held and modernizing language about who can vote failed to get the required 75 percent of the vote statewide, so they weren’t adopted. Or were they? In an unusual court challenge, the League of Women Voters is asking the state Supreme Court to rule that amendments that won majority approval in 2008, 2010 and 2014 – but failed to hit the 75 percent mark – are actually in effect. Changing most sections of the state Constitution requires the approval of only a simple majority of voters. But four sections, dealing with elections and with the educational rights of Spanish-speaking children, require a 75 percent approval.

Full Article: Failed amendments actually passed, group claims | Albuquerque Journal News.

Florida: Judge rejects Legislature’s redistricting map, recommends plaintiffs’ plan | Tampa Bay Times

Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis on Friday rejected the Florida Legislature’s third attempt at redrawing its congressional districts and recommended a map proposed by the challengers to the Florida Supreme Court for its final review. Lewis adopted the bulk of the map approved by lawmakers in the northern and central portions of the state but specifically rejected the proposed boundaries for seven districts, including District 26 in Miami-Dade, now held by Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo, potentially unseating at least three incumbents congressional candidates and opening the door for others.  Download Romo Order Recommending Adoption of Remedial Map

Full Article: Judge rejects Legislature's redistricting map, recommends plaintiffs' plan | Tampa Bay Times.

Florida: Redistricting court drama resumes; Supremes to review next month | Orlando Sentinel

Lawyers sparred over Florida’s congressional districts in court Thursday, the latest episode of a three-year battle that has left the state without political boundaries for the 2016 election. The case is in court because the Florida Supreme Court threw out the prior maps in July, ruling that GOP operatives had infiltrated the redistricting process and packed Democratic voters in District 5, a skinny district that snaked from Jacksonville to Orlando. Leon Circuit Judge Terry Lewis will now consider as many as seven proposals for the maps submitted by both chambers of the Legislature, the League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs. The trial will continue into next week, and Lewis will make a final decision and send it to the Supreme Court for review by Oct. 17. Already, litigation and special sessions related to redistricting have cost taxpayers about $11 million.

Full Article: Redistricting court drama resumes; Supremes to review next month - Orlando Sentinel.

Florida: Redistricting hearing focuses on dispute over Miami districts | Miami Herald

The latest chapter in Florida’s redistricting saga played out Thursday in a Leon County courtroom as two Miami congressional districts emerged as the heart of the differences over which of seven maps should be the one chosen by the court. Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis must decide which map, or pieces of maps, he will recommend to the Florida Supreme Court by the Oct. 17 deadline. The court invalidated the map drawn by the Legislature in 2012 because it violated the constitutional ban on protecting incumbents and political parties. After the Legislature reached a stalemate in a special session, the high court ordered Lewis to choose from proposals from the House, Senate and the group of voters who successfully challenged the original map.

Full Article: Redistricting hearing focuses on dispute over Miami districts | Miami Herald.

North Carolina: Voter ID lawsuit can proceed in state court, judge rules | News & Observer

A Wake County judge has refused a request from state lawmakers to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the Voter ID requirement. Judge Mike Morgan issued his ruling on Wednesday, almost four weeks after a hearing on the matter. Lawmakers amended the state’s Voter ID requirement this legislative session on the eve of a trial in federal court. Attorneys for state lawmakers and the governor contended at the August hearing in state court that the legislative amendment to the requirement – offering voters without an approved ID the option of using a provisional ballot – made the lawsuit moot. Attorneys for the challengers disagreed and Morgan found in their favor. In the lawsuit before Morgan, the League of Women Voters, Randolph Institute and several voters argue that lawmakers overstepped the bounds of the state constitution in 2013 when they added the ID requirement as part of an elections law overhaul.

Full Article: Voter ID lawsuit can proceed in state court, judge rules | News & Observer.

Virginia: New lawsuit challenges Virginia legislative districts | Richmond Times-Dispatch

A lawsuit filed Monday in Richmond Circuit Court challenges 11 of Virginia’s legislative districts, arguing that they violate the state constitution’s requirement of compactness. The suit, backed by the nonpartisan redistricting reform group OneVirginia2021, challenges six Republican-held districts and five Democrat-held districts. The plaintiffs in the districts include members of both major parties, a tea party activist and members of nonpartisan organizations such as the League of Women Voters. The defendants are the Virginia State Board of Elections; chairman James B. Alcorn; vice chair Clara Belle Wheeler; board secretary Singleton B. McAllister; the state Department of Elections; and Edgardo Cortes, commissioner of the state Department of Elections.

Full Article: New lawsuit challenges Virginia legislative districts - Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginia Politics.

Florida: Judge sets Monday deadline for submitting Florida redistricting maps | Miami Herald

Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis gave the Florida House and Senate, and the two groups of redistricting challengers, until the end of the day on Monday to submit their proposals for him to choose from when he recommends Florida’s final congressional districts map. At a 30-minute hearing, the Tallahassee judge approved in concept a proposal that would also require that anyone who submits a map to disclose who drew it, why they drew the lines they choose and how it comports to the constitutional guidelines in Florida’s Fair Districts law. He is likely to receive four maps — one each from the House and Senate and one each from the two plaintiffs groups, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause and the coalition of Democrat-leaning voters known as the Romo plaintiffs. The Florida Supreme Court last week ordered Lewis to choose between the maps after the Legislature ended its special session in August without an agreement on a map. The court said that Lewis must accept proposals from the parties and choose among them to recommend which of them most adheres to the July 9 ruling that set guidelines for lawmakers to follow when redrawing the map.

Kansas: Kris Kobach’s plan to delete more than 30,000 voter registration applications in Kansas draws dissent, praise | Topeka Capital-Journal

The Shawnee County election commissioner and representatives of advocacy groups clashed Wednesday over merits of the Kansas secretary of state’s plan to purge more than 32,000 voter registration applications for failure to document citizenship. Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who championed the 2011 law mandating new registrants document citizenship, has been saddled with oversight responsibility of applications held “in suspense” specifically because individuals had yet to provide evidence they were a U.S. citizen. A total of 36,000 applications are in limbo, but nine in 10 are tied to the citizenship requirement. Kobach proposed an administrative rule — not a state law — ordering county election officers to shred all registration applications if not completed within 90 days. Currently, Kansas sets no time limit on the process. … Former Topeka Democratic Rep. Ann Mah, as well as representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, Topeka branch of the NAACP, Kansas League of Women Voters and Topeka National Organization for Women, expressed opposition to the policy sought by Kobach. Mah said cancellation of registrations pending in the Election Voter Information System after three months was improper because time required to obtain a birth certificate from another state could take much longer. She said applicants who failed to present citizenship documents could meet requirements to participate in federal — not state — elections, and those individuals shouldn’t be cut off.

Full Article: Kris Kobach's plan to delete more than 30,000 voter registration applications in Kansas draws dissent, praise | CJOnline.com.

North Carolina: Voting maps back before State Supreme Court | WRAL

Eight months after the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of congressional and legislative voting maps drawn by the Republican-led General Assembly in 2011, the maps were back before the court on Monday. The U.S. Supreme Court in April ordered the state court to take another look at the maps in light of a decision on an Alabama redistricting case where the justices found lawmakers in that state relied too much on “mechanical” numerical percentages while drawing legislative districts in which blacks comprised a majority of the population. Those who sued over North Carolina’s maps in 2011 believe the ruling in the Alabama matter is spot on with the boundaries drawn by the General Assembly. They argue that it confirms two dozen legislative districts, along with the majority-black 1st and 12th congressional districts, should be struck down and maps redrawn quickly by the legislature for the 2016 elections.

Full Article: Voting maps back before NC Supreme Court :: WRAL.com.

Virginia: Paralysis on redrawing the boundaries of Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District | Daily Press

Sept. 1 brings yet another reminder of the partisan rancor that too often paralyzes the Virginia General Assembly these days. Despite convening briefly for a special session in mid-August, that body failed to meet the deadline imposed by a federal court for redrawing the boundaries of the state’s Third Congressional District. … While the legal and political wrangling continues, the failure of the General Assembly to address its responsibilities will likely leave the map-drawing in the hands of the federal judiciary — a job that the League of Women Voters of Virginia suspects the judges are not eager to take on. The league believes that these maps are a good place to begin, because they were developed by persons seeking to adhere to the redistricting requirements embedded in the Virginia Constitution, rather than by persons seeking only to amass enough voters of the right political stripe in their districts to assure their easy re-election.

Full Article: Paralysis on redrawing the boundaries of Virginia's 3rd Congressional District | Daily Press.

Kansas: Kris Kobach says voter registrations without ‘proof of citizenship’ need to go | The Kansas City Star

More than 30,000 incomplete voter registrations have piled up in Kansas — most waiting for applicants to submit the now-required “proof of citizenship” documents. Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he knows how to fix the problem. He wants a new rule that allows election officials to toss out uncompleted applications after 90 days. The proposal will be the topic of a hearing this week. Simple housekeeping, he says. The wholesale dumping of potential voters, critics say, and for no good reason. Even Hillary Clinton weighed in last week. A tweet from her presidential campaign account called Kobach’s proposal a “purging” and a “targeted attack on voting rights.” Kansas’ rules on voter ID and proof of citizenship championed by the Republican secretary of state have stirred up controversy nationally and close to home. Voting rights groups say the regulations muck up a system that wasn’t broken and, in the process, reduce voter participation.

Full Article: Kris Kobach says voter registrations without ‘proof of citizenship’ need to go | The Kansas City Star.

Ohio: Supporters of Issue 1 say redistricting change to promote ‘fair elections’ | The Columbus Dispatch

In the past two elections, 100 percent of Ohio congressional races and 98 percent of legislative contests were won by the political party favored when the district lines were drawn in 2011. In 2014, Ohio Republican congressional candidates got 57 percent of all votes cast but won 75 percent of the seats. Republican candidates for the Ohio House got 57 percent of the vote and won nearly two-thirds of the seats. “Ohio elections will continue to be entirely predictable until we change how these maps are drawn,” said Carrie Davis, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, which put together the data. “We can fix this. We can fix it this year.”

Full Article: Supporters of Issue 1 say redistricting change to promote ‘fair elections’ | The Columbus Dispatch.

North Carolina: Challenge to voter ID law set for hearing in state court | News & Observer

If a bill to move up the date of North Carolina’s presidential primary wins approval from both houses and the governor this legislative session, North Carolina voters could go to the polls as soon as March 15 in 2016. As that scheduling uncertainty hangs over the state, so does the constitutionality of a voter ID requirement set to go into effect in 2016. On Monday morning, a Wake County judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on whether to dismiss a challenge in state court to the 2013 change in election law that requires voters to show one of seven state-approved forms of photo identification before casting a ballot. Attorneys for state lawmakers and the governor contend that a legislative amendment to the requirement earlier this summer – offering voters without an approved ID the option of using a provisional ballot – made the lawsuit moot. Attorneys for the challengers disagree.

Full Article: Challenge to NC voter ID law set for hearing in state court | News & Observer.

Ohio: Democratic Party slow to support redistricting proposal | The Columbus Dispatch

Consternation inside the Ohio Democratic Party over whether to endorse a November ballot issue on legislative redistricting should be nearing a conclusion. The legislature passed Issue 1 in December, and there was only one Democratic “no” vote. The proposal has been endorsed by the Ohio Republican Party, the League of Women Voters and a variety of groups that generally align with Democrats, including ProgressOhio, Common Cause Ohio and the Coalition of Democratic & Progressive Organizations of Central Ohio.

Full Article: Ohio Democratic Party slow to support redistricting proposal | The Columbus Dispatch.

Florida: Voting-Rights Groups Slam Proposed South Florida District | News Service of Florida

A pair of voting-rights groups whose lawsuit led to the state’s current congressional districts being struck down by the Florida Supreme Court say that a new proposal appears to be tilted to favor a Republican congressman in South Florida. In a letter to state House and Senate leaders, the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida said a “base map” crafted by legislative staff members and currently working its way through a special session largely follows the Supreme Court’s ruling. The court last month found that current districts violated the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” standards approved by Florida voters in 2010. But League of Women Voters President Pamela Goodman and Common Cause Chairman Peter Butzin said the base map appears to try to protect Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo after the Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to unite the city of Homestead in one district. That shift would add thousands of African-American voters to Curbelo’s swing district.

Full Article: Voting-Rights Groups Slam Proposed South Florida District « CBS Miami.

Editorials: Is a politically unbiased map possible for Florida? | Miami Herald

As Florida legislators struggled last week to draw a congressional district map that meets a court mandate, it became clear that what they would end up with would be far from perfect. “Bring me a redistricting commission or something, for goodness sakes,” exclaimed Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, as lawmakers convened for the second special session to revise a congressional redistricting plan that had been rejected by the court. “Bring me something that works!” Redistricting reformers thought they had found a better way when they persuaded 63 percent of Florida’s voters in 2010 to approve the “Fair District” amendments to the Florida Constitution that outlawed gerrymandering and banned lawmakers from intentionally drawing districts that favor or disfavor incumbents or political parties. But taking politics out of the most political of acts turned out not to be so easy.

Full Article: Is a politically unbiased map possible for Florida? | Miami Herald.