redistricting

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Editorials: With court cases looming, the fight over voting rights will only intensify | Carl P. Leubsdorf/Dallas Morning News

In the coming weeks, high federal courts will hear important cases challenging two ways Republicans have sought since Barack Obama’s election as president to restrict voting of Democratic-leaning groups. They come at a time when efforts initially focused on restrictive voter-identification laws in Texas and other GOP-controlled states have broadened to include purging voter rolls of people who hadn’t lately voted and limiting early voting in areas with large minority populations. In early December, a federal appeals court will hear the latest version of the long-pending Texas voter ID law. In January, the Supreme Court, which is already considering a Wisconsin case challenging political redistricting, will hear an Ohio case that could produce a crucial legal judgment on the ability of state officials to purge voter rolls. Read More

South Carolina: Voters’ group getting head start on redistricting | SCNow

Voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around, according to a voter education group. This seems to be the rally cry of the League of Women’s Voters of South Carolina, whose local members held an information meeting last Thursday at the Hartsville Memorial Library. The meeting went over the age-old problem of gerrymandering, where elected officials attempt to keep voting districts favorable to one side of party affiliation or the other. “Representative of both major political parties seek partisan advantage from gerrymandering,” said information from the meeting. “This is not a problem associated with one or another political party. Incumbent protection has also shaped South Carolina’s districts.” Read More

National: Crooked lines: How technology, data have changed political boundaries | WTSP

With gerrymandering being one of the highest-profile cases to go before the U.S. Supreme Court this session , the issue has taken center stage as lawmakers prepare for another round of redistricting based off the 2020 census. Lawmakers across the country re-draw political district boundaries every decade, but gerrymandering happens when those lines are drawn to give themselves an unfair advantage. Redistricting is a normal and important element of U.S. government, but the line between redistricting and gerrymandering can be fuzzy. With technology drastically improving mapping software and the data behind it, there are more tools to effectively gerrymander districts than ever before. “Redistricting has always been a controversial issue because it’s political,” said Dr. Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida. “You really have to go back, some of the odd-shaped districts are the result of, actually, an order of the U.S. Supreme Court years ago.” Read More

North Carolina: ‘Race-based redistricting’ imposed on NC ‘against its will,’ lawmakers say | News & Observer

Lawmakers and the challengers of maps proposed for electing North Carolina’s General Assembly members waited until the 11th hour to respond to districts suggested by an unaffiliated mapmaker. Lawmakers were critical of the process, saying the federal judges who tapped a Stanford University law professor to draw maps for them had done so prematurely and allowed him to consider race as he looked at election districts in Cumberland, Guilford, Hoke, Mecklenburg, Wake, Bladen, Sampson and Wayne counties. The three federal judges presiding over the case that will determine what districts North Carolina’s state Senate and House members come from in the 2018 elections have yet to rule on maps the lawmakers adopted in August. The judges — James Wynn of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Catherine Eagles and Thomas Schroeder, both of the U.S. Middle District of North Carolina — ordered new lines after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed their ruling last year that found 28 of the state legislative districts were longstanding unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. Read More

North Carolina: Expert proposes legislative maps in redistricting case | WRAL

A map-making expert brought in by federal judges to rework North Carolina’s House and Senate districts released his proposal Monday. Attorneys on both sides of the underlying lawsuit requiring new maps have until Friday to recommend changes for a plan that’s due Dec. 1 to the federal judges overseeing the redraw. That panel of three judges could accept that map, drawn by Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily, or stick with something closer to what the General Assembly’s Republican majority submitted earlier this year. The attorneys who initially sued to change the state’s maps argue that the GOP’s redraw didn’t fully address the racial gerrymander found by the judges and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Read More

Pennsylvania: Redistricting reform plan stalled in committee | The Morning Call

In spite of a growing bipartisan citizens’ movement across Pennsylvania for redistricting reform to end gerrymandering, House Bill 722 is stalled in committee. As the majority chairman of the House State Government Committee, Rep. Metcalfe is the only person who can move this bill forward. We are urging him to schedule HB 722 for action. A call to his office to find out why he has not moved on a bill that will restore integrity to our election process so that every person’s vote counts has gone unanswered. Read More

Utah: Judge is poised to ‘adjust gerrymandering with gerrymandering,’ giving Navajos an edge in southern Utah county | The Salt Lake Tribune

History may be in the making in San Juan County this week when a judge holds hearings that could place the Navajo community in the political driver’s seat — a stark departure from the past century dominated by Anglos. On Thursday, federal Judge Robert Shelby will hold public hearings in Monticello at 10:30 a.m. and Bluff at 3:30 p.m. regarding several map proposals — all of which most likely would lead to Navajos holding majorities on the two most powerful government bodies in the county. Read More

National: Eric Holder’s Battle Against Gerrymandering | The New Yorker

On November 7th, in Washington, D.C., after delivering a speech to the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, Eric Holder grabbed his Blackberry in search of results from the Virginia elections. As the former Attorney General scrolled backward through a long e-mail thread, he quickly learned just how stunning a night it had been for the Democrats. He also understood that, after this triumph, it might be a little harder to keep his party focussed on gerrymandering. “The system didn’t become more fair as a result of what happened last night,” Holder told me the next day. “The system appears to be more fair in spite of the reality that those Democratic candidates faced. The job that I have is to make sure people don’t become complacent.” Read More

North Carolina: Court-appointed specialist draws new maps for gerrymandered House, Senate districts | Greensboro News & Record

An outside expert appointed by a federal court to help redraw some North Carolina legislative districts that judges worry remained unconstitutional — including at least two in Guilford County — has suggested changes. On Monday, Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily filed his preliminary House and Senate plans. He also requested formal responses from Republican legislative leaders who originally drew the boundaries and from voters who successfully sued over them. Judges want Persily’s final proposal by Dec. 1. Judges have said four districts redrawn last summer by GOP legislators still appeared to preserve illegal racial bias, so Persily said he redrew compact replacements for them. He also retooled several districts in and around Charlotte and Raleigh because of potential state constitutional problems. Read More

Pennsylvania: Why Pennsylvania is home to some of the nation’s worst gerrymanders | WHYY

In most states, the legislature is in charge of designing Congressional and state voting districts.
Pennsylvania isn’t unique in that respect. But some say the commonwealth is home to some of the nation’s starkest examples of gerrymandering — where the shape of a voting district is manipulated to produce the outcome desired by the party in charge. The term is over 200 years old. It was coined by a Boston newspaper’s coverage of maps produced in Massachusetts in 1812 during the term of Gov. Elbridge Gerry, which featured a salamander-shaped district loosely coiled around Boston. Read More