State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Equal Protection

The Tar Heel Test Case, Partisan Gerrymandering Cases in a Post-Rucho World

By: Gabby Vance

On Monday, October 28th, 2019, a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Wake County ruled that the proposed North Carolina congressional district maps violated the North Carolina state constitution. Despite Democrats making up about half the state vote, the maps only consisted of three Democratic districts and ten Republican districts. The panel found that the maps clearly discriminated against Democratic voters. The mapmakers used tactics such as “packing” and “cracking” to skew the maps in favor of Republicans and manipulate the upcoming 2020 election in their favor. Packing concentrates supporters for a political party into one district to give their party a less number of wins. Whereas cracking, the opposite technique spreads large groups of voters with the same political ideology out to water down their votes. These methods created landslide victories in North Carolina in the three Democratic districts; the candidates consistently win by over 70% of the vote and then much smaller victories for the Republican seats, only around mid-to-high 50% victories.

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Wisconsin: After Frank v. Walker

Wisconsin: after Frank v. Walker, a new case — One Wisconsin Institute v. Nichol — was filed on May 29th, 2015 to challenge Wisconsin’s election laws again.

By: Lisa Zhang

In a recent complaint filed by One Wisconsin Institute, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, and six Wisconsin residents, plaintiffs challenged several Wisconsin voting provisions, including 2011 Wisconsin Act 23. I previously discussed the Equal Protection challenges made in this case in an earlier post. Below is an analysis of the case’s challenge under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

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“War Chests” and Political Spending in Massachusetts: Are Unions and Corporations Similarly Situated?

By Allison Davis

In March of 2015, two family-owned companies headquartered in Massachusetts filed suit in state court challenging certain provisions of Massachusetts’ campaign finance laws. The provisions in question prohibit corporations and corporate PACs from contributing to candidates or political party committees, but permit labor unions and their PACs to directly contribute up to $15,000 per calendar year to candidates or parties. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint (filed as 1A Auto, Inc. v. Sullivan), this law represents a “lopsided ban” that stifles First Amendment-protected speech and associational rights for corporations. Additionally, the plaintiffs allege that the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution by granting unions and their PACs a privilege that is forbidden to their corporate counterparts. Continue reading

Why leave room for foul play? The 10-Foot Requirement

By Lance Woods:

Pennsylvania’s decision to continue to keep the press from entering polling stations draws an arbitrary line and leaves room for foul play by ensuring that the voting process is not as transparent as possible. Continue reading

Idaho localities sue over redistricting

by Daniel Page

Idaho’s redistricting problems seem far from over. Several localities are less than pleased with the second redistricting commission’s adopted plan. Several Counties, county commissioners, and cities, including Twin Falls County, Teton County, and Owyhee County have collectively sued the redistricting commission and the Secretary of State. The plaintiffs are complaining because of map L87, which divides the state into 35 districts, each of which may elect two representatives and one senator. Each of these localities dislikes the way the lines were drawn because it divides the localities and combines them with other localities, diluting the plaintiffs’ votes.

Idaho districts

In a 2002 case called Bingham County v. Idaho Commission for Reapportionment, Idaho recognized that under Brown v. Thomson, any redistricting plan with a deviation of more than 10% was prima facie violative of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. In that case, the Idaho Supreme Court stated: Continue reading

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