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Voting & Elections 10.20.2021

Newsweek (Op-Ed): It's Time to Fix—Or Nix—The Senate Filibuster

Some of us believe the filibuster should be eliminated; others think reforms like a return to the "talking filibuster" can work, so long as there is a path to up-or-down votes on important legislation. The Freedom to Vote Act, a compromise measure recently introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin, is a fitting vehicle to usher in a new era of transparency and accountability.

The Hill: Redistricting commissions descend into political warfare

“There are obviously challenges with a hybrid commission, half politician half citizen. We knew going into this that this was an experiment. As we are learning through this process, we are learning that maybe this is not a format that works well,” said Suzanne Almeida, a redistricting expert at Common Cause who monitors Virginia’s process. “There is a lot more work to be done.”

NPR (AUDIO): Redistricting: What Happens When The Party With Power Gives Themselves More

STEPHANIE GOMEZ: So, you know, we got the text. Like, the maps are out. These are the maps that we have been waiting for. CHANG: Stephanie Gomez is associate director of Common Cause Texas, a nonprofit that works on issues like voting and elections. She was waiting eagerly on Monday when Republican state lawmakers released their first draft of the new congressional map. GOMEZ: I don't know if I'm allowed to cuss, but it was very like, oh, hell, like, it's - the maps are out. It was just - everyone open up the maps, and let's just - let's take a look at everything. CHANG: So remember all that population growth we mentioned in Texas? It's been driven almost entirely by people of color. And it's the reason that Texas next year will gain two more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, where seats are allocated by state population. GOMEZ: Of course, our eyes were like, OK, we're supposed to get two opportunity districts for minorities. Let's see where they end up putting those. CHANG: When Gomez got a closer look at the new Texas maps, she saw what many Democrats expected and feared. You see, the state's new map would actually reduce the number of congressional districts where voters of color are in the majority, and the map would protect Republican incumbents who might have been vulnerable by packing their districts with even more Trump supporters. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project, which grades redistricting maps on things like how compact or competitive the districts are, gave the Texas congressional map a flat-out F. GOMEZ: It's so hard to be a Texan who is fighting for an equitable democracy. Like, we are constantly being met with our deepest, worst fears.

Houston Chronicle: Over 1 million Houston voters change congressional districts under GOP redistricting plan

“With 95 percent of Texas population growth in the last decade coming from communities of color, our new congressional districts clearly should have been created to provide them the ability to elect their candidates of choice,” said Anthony Gutierrez, the executive director of the good government group Common Cause Texas. “That did not happen because these mapmakers prioritized the interests of their own political party over those of Black and brown Texans.”

The Hill: Cities become pawns in redistricting game

“Republicans will oftentimes split cities in order to dilute the votes of Democratic voters in districts that will be heavily Republican, so they want a little piece to bury under the votes of people who vote the other way,” said Kathay Feng, national redistricting director at Common Cause, a government watchdog organization. “Democrats, on the other hand, want to split cities because they can vote in solid Democratic patterns and they want to use them as anchors in as many districts as possible.”

Washington Post: New York’s redistricting tests Democratic opposition to gerrymandering

“It was a hallmark of the Cuomo administration to introduce bold measures to make great headlines that have little to no substance. The redistricting deal is that kind of deal,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, which did not support the referendum, declaring it inadequate. “Clearly the desperate desire for a deal overcame good governance.” So far, critics like Lerner have been right. In its first attempt this year to draw new maps, the commission couldn’t agree, with Democrats drafting one map and Republicans another.

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