Welcome to the FELN Biweekly Redistricting Update. If you have updates to share – on federal, state and local redistricting plans – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-The FELN Team
Last week, opponents of Maryland’s new redistricting plan collected enough signatures to put the new redistricting plan on the November ballot. Opponents of the plan are critical of the redrawn 3rd, 4th, and 6th congressional districts, arguing they were gerrymandered to include more democratic voters. The Maryland Democratic Party is filing a lawsuit against the Maryland Board of Elections because, according to the complaint, the board accepted thousands of invalid signatures. The signature gatherers used a web-based site, MDPetitions.com, to collect many of the signatures. The lawsuit claims that those signatures do not meet requirements in state law for gathering voter information. They argue that over 5,000 signatures of 59,201 signatures that were certified should be thrown out. Signature gatherers need 55,736 valid signatures to place the redistricting maps on the ballot.
A coalition of voter groups organized to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot to change the way Ohio’s legislative districts are redrawn every decade came up 130,000 signatures short last week of getting the amendment on the ballot. The coalition, Voters First, submitted 466,352 signatures on July 3 and 254,625 were certified. The coalition needs to collect roughly 385,000 signatures to place the amendment on the ballot. They have until July 28 to collect enough valid signatures. The Ohio Republican Party claims signature gatherers are using questionable tactics to gather signatures and at least two petitions incorrectly reported the number of signatures they contained.
Now that Democrats control the state Senate, the law firm hired by Republicans to draw new election maps is giving Democrats access to its legal file. The firm previously blocked the release, citing attorney-client privilege. Senate Democrats wanted an opportunity to review the files to review the steps GOP lawmakers took last year to draw political boundaries, which Democrats believe benefited the GOP.