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Pennsylvania: Supreme Court turns down gerrymander appeal from Pennsylvania’s GOP | Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court refused Monday to block a new election map for Pennsylvania that gives Democrats a chance to win four or more congressional seats in November. The justices turned down a second and final appeal from Pennsylvania’s Republican leaders, who defended the gerrymandered districts that had given them a steady 13-5 advantage over the Democrats for years. The new map gives Democrats a good chance to win half of the 18 House seats. Last week, they celebrated picking up a Republican seat when Conor Lamb claimed victory in a special election for a seat in southwestern Pennsylvania. Republicans have not conceded that race as final provisional ballots are counted. Lamb and all other candidates will run this fall in districts that have been redrawn. Read More

Pennsylvania: Lack of court action on new Pennsylvania voting map causing concern | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With Tuesday’s deadline for filing nominating petitions imminent, prospective candidates waiting for courts to take action on Pennsylvania’s radically reconfigured congressional map learned Friday that the wait will continue. By day’s end Friday, neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor the U.S. District Court here had decided whether to grant requests from Republican lawmakers who want them to overturn the new congressional map put in place by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ruled that lines drawn in 2011 represented an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander favoring Republicans. Members of both parties and outside experts appeared to be at a loss to explain the courts’ inaction. The delay, at least on the U.S. Supreme Court side, is “quite unusual,” said Richard L. Hasen, a law and political science professor at the University of California, Irvine. Read More

South Carolina: How the Supreme Court could shake up South Carolina’s election map | The State

Filing opens Friday for candidates running in South Carolina’s 2018 election — from the governor and statewide offices to congressional and S.C. House races. But hanging over this election season are two U.S. Supreme Court cases that could reshape the state’s elections. Wisconsin Democrats claim that state’s election districts are so politically gerrymandered — redistricted to favor Republican candidates — that they violate voters’ constitutional rights. In another case before the Supreme Court, Maryland Republicans claim Democrats in that state unfairly gerrymandered a congressional district to favor their party. The justices’ decisions, expected this summer, could change the way election lines are drawn for federal, state and local races in South Carolina and across the country. Read More

Iowa: ‘Backdoor gerrymandering’ just one of Iowa GOP election-rigging attempts | Des Moines Register’

Iowa prides itself on its clean elections.  Our state’s nonpartisan redistricting, which ensures fair treatment for both major parties, is a model for the nation. But that doesn’t mean Iowa is immune from efforts to twist the election process to the advantage of the party in power.  Two bills moving in the Iowa Legislature are notable examples. The Iowa Senate last week approved a bill that would put Republicans at the top of the ballot in 98 out of 99 counties for the 2018 general election.  Read More

South Dakota: Independent Redistricting Initiative Falls Short of Ballot | Associated Press

The campaign for a proposed constitutional amendment that would have taken control of redistricting from state legislators and given it to an independent commission didn’t submit enough valid signatures to put the measure before November voters, South Dakota’s chief elections official said Monday. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs’ office said in a statement that a random sampling of signatures collected by Citizens for Fair Elections found that the group turned in about 25,300 valid signatures, not the nearly the 28,000 needed for the proposed constitutional amendment to go on the general election ballot. Read More

Editorials: Is one of the Pennsylvania voting cases doomed? | Lyle Denniston/Constitution Daily

Even as the Supreme Court takes more time than expected to decide its part in the constitutional controversy over how voting is to be done this year for the 18 House of Representatives members from Pennsylvania, a federal trial court in Harrisburg, PA, is pondering a complex question of states’ rights that could end the case there without a decision on who wins. The difficulty for the three judges sitting in the state’s capital city arises from the reality that, whenever a lawsuit is started in a federal court, that court has to have the authority to decide it, and there is significant controversy over whether the Harrisburg court has that authority.  The controversy is keyed to the most basic understandings about the nature of the Constitution’s division of powers between state and federal courts. For decades, the general understanding has been that only the Supreme Court has the authority to review a state court ruling, and then only when the state court has issued a ruling that involves the federal Constitution.  That is a strong gesture toward federalism – respect for states’ rights in limiting national government power. Read More

Pennsylvania: Federal judges hear arguments in congressional map fight: Should they block new map? | Philadelphia Inquirer

A panel of federal judges, asked by GOP lawmakers to block the new Pennsylvania congressional map, on Friday questioned whether it should wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to act on a similar request and if blocking the map would further disrupt an already tumultuous election cycle. The three judges — Chief U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Judge Kent A. Jordan of the U.S.  Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and District Judge Jerome B. Simandle for the District of New Jersey — were equally aggressive Friday in questioning both sides in the case during four hours of testimony. They said they would release a decision soon. A group of eight congressmen and two state Senate leaders, all Republicans, are seeking a preliminary injunction to stop implementation of the congressional map imposed last month by the state high court, arguing that the court stole power that the  Constitution gives to state lawmakers. Read More

Pennsylvania: Hearing looms on Pennsylvania congressional redistricting issue | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The only certainty in the congressional redistricting case is that Republicans lose if they can’t persuade a three-judge panel to grant a preliminary injunction, said Bruce Ledewitz, a Duquesne University law professor. The federal judges are scheduled to hear arguments Friday in Harrisburg. A preliminary injunction stops one side from taking an action while the other pursues its legal challenge. In this case, Republicans want to bar the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf from implementing a state Supreme Court ruling that overturned a 2011 congressional map for Pennsylvania drawn by GOP lawmakers. Since there’s little debate that map — considered one of the country’s most gerrymandered — is unconstitutional, the only question seems to be whether it will be used one last time for the 2018 elections, Ledewitz said. Read More

Indiana: Election reforms approved by Senate die in House |

Two potentially transformative election reforms approved by the Indiana Senate likely will not become law this year after failing to pass the House by Monday’s deadline for acting on Senate measures. Neither Senate Bill 250, authorizing “no excuse” absentee voting, nor Senate Bill 326, establishing standards for legislative redistricting, received formal consideration by the House Elections and Apportionment Committee. They therefore could not advance for a vote by the full House on whether to send them to the governor. It’s possible, though improbable, that the Senate still could force a House vote through the conference committee process. Read More

Voting Blogs: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Ohio’s State Redistricting Commission | State of Elections

In 2015, Ohio voters approved a state constitutional amendment that reformed the process for drawing district lines for the state legislature. Previously, state legislative redistricting had been managed by a five-member Apportionment Board, consisting of the governor, the secretary of state, the state auditor, and one member of the state legislature from both parties. New district lines only required a simple majority vote to enter into effect. The amendment, Issue 1 on the 2015 ballot, enlarged (and renamed the board to the Ohio Redistricting Commission) the Apportionment Board by two members by adding a member of each party from the state legislature. Issue 1 also reformed the procedures of the board, particularly how it approves district maps. The Commission must now have votes in favor of a map by at least two members of the minority party for the district maps to be in force for a full ten years. However, if this requirement is not met, then the district maps will be in force for only four years and new maps will be drawn at the end of that time period. Read More