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
The House and Senate passed legislative redistricting plans last week that now go to the governor for his signature and to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The Alaska Supreme Court reversed itself on a decision on an earlier proposed redistricting plan by backing off its opposition to considering Native political strength in drawing districts. The court recognizes that the map that the redistricting commission will use might not be pre-cleared by the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) because it disregarded the option of creating a district with a concentrated Native presence. The maps now go to the DOJ for approval.
The Arizona Redistricting Commission asked a three-judge panel hearing a challenge to the new legislative maps drawn by the commission to throw out the challenge. The lawyers for the plaintiffs dropped a request earlier this week for interim maps to be drawn for the 2012 election. No date has been scheduled for a hearing on the lawsuit.
A three-judge panel hearing a challenge to the state’s redistricting plans has not yet made a decision on the lawsuit. However, plaintiffs filed a motion barring the secretary of state from certifying the May 22 primary results in Senate District 24, where state Rep. Keith Ingram of West Memphis defeated Sen. Jack Crumbly, the incumbent. Sen. Crumbly originally filed the challenge to the redistricting plans.
A three-judge panel denied a petition for an injunction in the state’s redistricting plan because it’s too close to the primary elections and the case the plaintiffs are bringing before the court is too weak. The case involves military personnel, their families, as well as nonresident students not being counted when the state drew its congressional and legislative districts. The ruling by the panel was only on the preliminary injunction and not on whether nonresidents should or should not have been included in determining legislative districts.
The Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to Illinois’ redistricting plans brought by the League of Women Voters of Illinois. They challenged the maps as unconstitutional because they claim that the legislature assigned districts based on political views and past voting history.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel began hearing arguments over the redrawing of congressional, legislative, and State Board of Education district maps in Kansas. The legislature failed to agree on a redistricting plan before the regular legislative session ended for the year. The lawsuit was brought by Robyn Renee Essex, a Republican precinct committee member from Olathe. The judges have allowed 27 other individuals to participate in the lawsuit as well.
Legislators – Conservative Republicans and a coalition consisting of moderate Democrats and Republicans –presented and defended several different maps before the court during the trial.
Gov. Sam Brownback asked the court not to consider any of the plans that were considered by the legislature because the maps varied too greatly in population from ideal size districts.
Candidates for office are anxiously awaiting the results from the trial on what legislative maps they will be running in. The candidate filing deadline is Friday to be on the August 7 primary ballot.
The Missouri Supreme Court upheld the legislative and congressional maps drawn by the legislature this past year.
A bi-partisan group of organizations is calling on the state Senate to pass legislation, approved last year in the state House, which would direct the non-partisan staff of the General Assembly to redraw legislative districts after the census instead of lawmakers. However, the Senate Pro Tem said the legislation will not be on the Senate’s legislative agenda this year.
We Are Ohio, the labor-backed coalition that successfully fought against a law to limit collective bargaining for public workers, is joining Ohio Voters First to take redistricting out of the hands of legislators and create a non-partisan independent citizens' commission responsible for drawing Ohio's legislative and congressional boundaries in the state. The coalition must gather 386,000 signatures to get the amendment on the November ballot.
The congressional maps, redrawn by the legislature, have not been ruled on yet by a three-judge panel out of San Antonio. Texas is currently using an interim map approved by the court. The judges have been considering the maps since the last hearing took place in February.