Gerrymander Gazette: Election Day (and more)!
E-Day: Slaying the Gerrymander at the Polls
Election Day is tomorrow! On Tuesday, November 6, voters across the country will see redistricting reform on the ballot in an unprecedented four states and two cities. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, five states had redistricting reform on the ballot between 2010 and 2017. Reformers have equaled that number this year alone. From “America’s high-five” to the home of the Queen Mary, voters have a unique opportunity to strike a major blow against gerrymandering.
In Colorado (Amendments Y and Z) and Michigan (Proposal 2), citizen-activists successfully pushed to give voters the option of creating independent citizen commissions to draw districts in a transparent process while prohibiting giving any candidate or party an unfair advantage. In Missouri, voters will vote on Amendment 1 to create a nonpartisan demographer position to draw districts and require testing of the map for partisan fairness. Utahns (not Utahans, regardless what spellcheck tells you) will vote on Proposition 4 to create a citizen advisory commission that will get a first crack at drawing districts that legislators can vote up or down without alteration. The Utah measure will also add strong nonpartisan standards that courts will enforce even if legislators reject the districts.
In California, voters in the city of Long Beach (Measure DDD) and in Santa Barbara County (Measures G and H) could create independent citizen redistricting commissions to draw Long Beach City Council and Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors districts. Read the L.A. Times endorsement of Long Beach Measure DDD.
Ohio already passed redistricting reform this past May. If you live in one of the cities or states with reform on the ballot, vote “yes” to keep the momentum going!
Common Cause v. Rucho: Punny Halloween Costumes and Defending the Indefensible
Last week, the plaintiffs in the combined case of Common Cause v. Rucho and League of Women Voters of North Carolina v. Rucho filed motions with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Justices to affirm the plaintiffs’ sweeping trial court victory. The trial court ruled on August 27 that the North Carolina General Assembly violated the U.S. Constitution when it intentionally manipulated the state’s congressional map to guarantee a 10-3 Republican advantage in the U.S. House delegation. The North Carolina General Assembly appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. See a special Halloween edition of Common Cause Facebook Live in which yours truly and National Redistricting Director Kathay Feng wear bad pun costumes and identify the three spookiest arguments the legislature makes to SCOTUS in defense of gerrymandering. The Supreme Court is likely to hear the case this term.
Virginia: Oops, They Did It Again
A three-judge federal district court panel appointed redistricting expert and UC Irvine political scientist Bernard Grofman to redraw Virginia’s House of Delegates districts. In June, the court struck down 11 districts as an illegal racial gerrymander in Bethune Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections. Unfortunately, this is familiar territory for the Virginia General Assembly, which had its congressional map struck down as an illegal racial gerrymander prior to the 2016 election. The court appointed Grofman after the Virginia General Assembly and Gov. Ralph Northam were unable to agree on a new map before the court’s October 30, 2018 deadline. Here is the timeline moving forward:
- November 16, 2018: Deadline for any responses to proposed maps that the parties or members of the public submitted for consideration. Those maps were due November 2.
- December 7, 2018: Deadline for Grofman to submit a proposed map and supporting information.
- December 14, 2018: Deadline for the submission of objections to Grofman’s proposed map.
- January 3, 2019: Court hearing on the map.