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Virginia: House GOP releases redistricting proposal it says is ‘race blind’; Democrats reject it as ’empty rhetoric’ | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates unveiled their own redistricting plan Tuesday, saying their proposed map is “race blind” and would fix racial gerrymandering without giving either party a significant political advantage. The General Assembly has six weeks left to pass a new House electoral map after a federal court ruled over the summer that lawmakers unconstitutionally prioritized race during the 2011 redistricting process by drawing too many African-American voters into majority-minority districts. The 2011 map passed with bipartisan support. It remains to be seen whether the GOP-controlled legislature will pass a map before the Oct. 30 deadline set by the court. But the introduction of the Republican plan puts another option on the table ahead of a House elections committee meeting next week. The bill’s patron is Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle. Read More

Wisconsin: Democrats revive gerrymandering lawsuit to block election maps in 2020 | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Democrats renewed their gerrymandering fight Friday with a pair of lawsuits over election maps that have helped Republicans maintain big margins in the state Assembly. An expanded group of Democratic voters filed a new version of their long-running lawsuit on Friday, three months after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously found the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to bring an earlier version of their suit. Just hours later, the campaign operation for the Democratic members of the Assembly filed a separate suit. The group asked to consolidate its case with the other one. The new filings, submitted to a three-judge court in Madison, were aimed at addressing legal flaws identified by the high court and giving the Democrats a chance to challenge the maps for all 99 of the state’s Assembly seats. Read More

Virginia: Lawmakers Continue Work on Court Ordered Redistricting | Associated Press

Virginia’s House speaker has scheduled a meeting later this month to continue work on a court-ordered legislative map. GOP House Speaker Kirk Cox announced Wednesday that a House committee will meet Sept. 27. Republicans also filed a motion Wednesday asking a federal court to reject Democrats’ request that federal judges redraw 11 state House districts found to be unconstitutionally gerrymandered. A federal court ruled in June that lawmakers illegally packed black voters into 11 districts and ordered lawmakers to draw a new map by Oct. 30. Read More

Virginia: House GOP says it’s working on redistricting plan, gives tentative timeline | Virginian Pilot

House Speaker Kirk Cox said Wednesday that despite Democrats’ claims, his caucus is in “the advanced stages” of solving court-ordered redistricting and that his party has been “rebuffed” in private meetings with Democratic leadership. Addressing Attorney General Mark Herring’s request to have a federal court – instead of lawmakers – draw a legislative map, attorneys on behalf of Cox, R-Colonial Heights, and House Republicans said conversations between the two parties have continued despite Democrats’ claims of an “impasse.” They argued that lawmakers are following an appropriate timeline and accused Democrats and the governor of seeking political gain by asking a federal court to redraw the maps. Read More

National: Redistricting reformers turn to ballot initiatives | The Hill

Nonpartisan redistricting proponents are turning to midterm election referendums in key states where legislative leaders have signaled no desire to give up their authority on drawing political boundaries. Voters in four states — Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and Utah — will weigh in on ballot measures this November that would radically reshape the way congressional or legislative district lines are drawn. In those states, legislative leaders have the power to draw state legislative and congressional district lines, authority critics say they have used to safeguard incumbents. The initiatives, placed on the ballot by good-government groups and, in some states, by Democratic activists, would vest the power to draw district boundaries in the hands of independent commissions. Read More

National: Upcoming redistricting is a backstory of 2018 midterms | Associated Press

The task of drawing new boundaries for thousands of federal and state legislative districts is still about three years away, yet the political battle over redistricting already is playing out in this year’s midterm elections. North Carolina’s congressional elections were thrown into a week of uncertainty when a federal judicial panel raised the possibility that it would order new districts before the fall elections to correct what it had ruled was unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. It opted against doing that on Tuesday, conceding there was not enough time. In Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Utah, campaigns are underway for November ballot initiatives that would change the redistricting process so it’s less partisan and creates more competitive districts. National Democratic and Republican groups are pouring millions of dollars into state races seeking to ensure they have officeholders in position to influence the next round of redistricting. Read More

North Carolina: Electoral map to be used in midterms despite being ruled unconstitutional | The Hill

A court on Tuesday said there was not enough time to redraw a North Carolina redistricting map that had been ruled unconstitutional last month, meaning the map will still be used in the 2018 midterm elections. “Having carefully reviewed the parties’ briefing and supporting materials, we conclude that there is insufficient time for this Court to approve a new districting plan and for the State to conduct an election using that plan prior to the seating of the new Congress in January 2019,” the court ruling said, according to CNN. t55“And we further find that imposing a new schedule for North Carolina’s congressional elections would, at this late juncture, unduly interfere with the State’s electoral machinery and likely confuse voters and depress turnout,” it added. Read More

Virginia: GOP House speaker appeals redistricting ruling to high court | Associated Press

The Republican speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates has filed a formal appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn a court ruling that found 11 House districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. A federal court ruled in June that lawmakers illegally packed black voters into the 11 districts and ordered lawmakers to redraw them by Oct. 30. Republicans say the districts are constitutional, and they filed noticed in July that they would appeal. House Speaker Kirk Cox’s appeal was filed Tuesday. Read More

Michigan: Republicans Can Intervene in Michigan Redistricting Case | Courthouse News

Eight Republican congressmen from Michigan can intervene in a gerrymandering lawsuit filed by a women’s group and Democratic voters, a Sixth Circuit panel ruled Thursday. A district court panel had previously denied the lawmakers’ motion, citing a “significant likelihood of undue delay and prejudice.” The lawsuit, filed in December 2017 by the League of Women Voters and 11 Democratic voters against Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, claimed Republican lawmakers unconstitutionally altered the state’s election map after the 2010 census. Read More

North Carolina: Gerrymandering Drama Is Only Going to Get Worse | The Atlantic

Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea for Republican state legislators in North Carolina to openly admit that they were drawing partisan gerrymanders. “I acknowledge freely that this would be a political gerrymander, which is not against the law”—that’s how state Representative David Lewis, the chief GOP official in charge of redistricting, characterized the latest congressional maps. He’d been sent back to the drawing board in 2016 by a federal court, which said the previous maps he’d authorized constituted racial gerrymanders. So Lewis and his team, still seeking to maximize Republican advantage, opted to redraw districts along aggressively partisan lines instead. Read More