State of Elections

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Tag: Chris Lewis

Rejection of West Virginia congressional map creates more questions than answers

by Chris Lewis

On Jan. 4, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia rejected the state’s new congressional map, the second state to have its map thrown out by the courts this redistricting cycle (Texas’ map was rejected in November). The 2-1 opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District declared the maps unconstitutional due to population variance between the districts, a violation of the “one man, one vote” principle that has been in effect since the 1960’s. While it is commendable that the judges had this tenet in mind when crafting its decision, they deserve scrutiny for a result that will likely have little real impact outside of headaches for state officials and confusion for voters.

Unlike its counterpart in the Lone Star State, West Virginia’s map was passed without much acrimony, overwhelmingly approved by votes of 27-4 in the State Senate and 90-5 in the House of Delegates.  Though Democrats control both houses, just three Republicans voted against the new map, a stark contrast to other states that have seen redistricting turn into bitter partisan battles.  The legislature made just one change, shifting Mason County from the 2nd District (represented by Republican Shelley Moore Capito) to the 3rd District (represented by Democrat Nick Rahall).  The change represented about a one percent change in party affiliation in both districts. Continue reading

WI (voter id): Badger ballot blues: early issues with Wisconsin’s voter ID law

by Chris Lewis

Could Wisconsin soon be the center of another political controversy?  A test run of the state’s new voter identification law on Oct. 11 led to long lines and frustrated voters, which could cause state Democrats to amplify their attacks on a law they already claim is costly and intended only to suppress voter turnout. State Republicans have expressed strong support for the law since its passage in May, and have expressed no desire to make any changes before it takes full effect before February’s primary elections.

Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl called for the mock election after noticing irregularities during July’s State Senate recall elections. Poll workers in those elections were instructed to request voters’ identification even though it was not yet required.  Witzel-Behl indicated that the workers were inconsistently following this instruction.  Following Tuesday’s mock election, Witzel-Behl estimated that it took each voter two minutes to present identification and sign the poll book, a standard she found “very alarming.” She also noted that several people left the line due to the long wait. Continue reading

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