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Tag: Redistricting (page 2 of 8)

Underlying Partisan Bickering in Harris: The Role of the Independent Commission in Arizona’s Current Redistricting Battle

By: Will Cooke

Several legislative districts in Arizona are potentially in flux as the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Rooted in the ongoing debate about the permissible degree of population deviation in state districts, the plaintiffs in the case focus their argument on the strong correlation between political ideology and the population of a district. As the graph below demonstrates, eleven of the thirteen Democrat-leaning legislative districts in the state contain total populations below the “ideal district size” (or the size of a district if drawn with perfect uniformity of population).

Arizona Districts

Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, 993 F. Supp. 2d, 1094 (D. Ariz. 2014)

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Shades of Grey: Virginia’s Ongoing Struggle to Ensure Proportionate Minority Representation

By: Hannah Thomson

As of 2014, African Americans made up just under 20% of Virginia’s total population. Yet, of the eleven congressmen and women elected from Virginia, incumbent Bobby Scott is currently the only African American representing the state, and only the second to be elected in the state’s entire history. This means that, while amounting to almost 20% of the total population, only 9% of Virginia’s seats in the House of Representatives are held by African Americans. Statistics improve slightly when looking at Virginia’s General Assembly. Of the one hundred members of the House of Delegates, thirteen representatives are African American (13%); of Virginia’s forty senators, five are African American (12.5%). Ultimately, a total 12.8% of the Virginia’s legislators are African American, falling about 6% below the total African American population in the state.

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Compactness and Political Considerations in Virginia General Assembly Districts

By: Emily Wagman

On September 14th, fourteen plaintiffs represented by DurretteCrump PLC filed suit in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond against the Virginia State Board of Elections, alleging that their respective House of Delegates and State Senate districts are not compact. Compactness is one of the Virginia Constitution’s three redistricting criteria. Along with compactness, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) requirements, and the “one person, one vote” requirement, districts must be contiguous and as close to equal in population as possible. Contiguity and equal population are relatively easy to determine, by looking at the proposed maps and the population data, respectively, compactness is more complicated.

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Supreme Court hearing Maryland Redistricting Case is not “Frivolous” for Future of Election Law Procedure

By: Hayley A Steffen

The Supreme Court has famously asserted that the right to vote is “preservative of other basic civil and political rights.” Recognizing the right to vote is implicated in election law litigation, Congress enacted special procedures for adjudicating these claims under the Three-Judge Act of 1910. Now codified under 28 U.S.C. § 2284, one provision requires a three-judge district court to hear constitutional challenges to redistricting claims of any congressional or statewide legislative body. Although the statute reads that the single judge to whom the request for a three-judge panel is made “may determine that a panel is not necessary,” it is unclear under what standard the judge has the authority to do so. Next month, the Supreme Court will be called upon to clarify this standard in a case brought by a Maryland man challenging the state’s redistricting scheme.

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When States Gerrymander, Everyone Loses: The Fight Over Florida’s Fifth Congressional District

FloridaFlorida’s Fifth Congressional District is quite a sight to behold. Beginning in Jacksonville, it runs south all the way to the outer edges of Orlando, also managing to scoop up part of Gainesville on the way. The District twists and turns, becoming very narrow and then very wide, so that one must wonder, what could be the motivation behind such an oddly shaped district? Unsurprisingly, the answer is gerrymandering. Unfortunately, the 5th District is an example of gerrymandering at its worst but there is hope. The shape of the 5th District may be changing very soon, but, in the meantime, nobody in either major political party will likely be happy with the district and average citizens are hurting when their community interests are not fairly represented.

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Muddying the Waters: Publishing Proposed Redistricting Remedies

By: Darcee Case

The most recent action in Virginia’s ongoing redistricting saga involves a motion to make the proposed remedial plans available on a publicly accessible website. Perhaps ironically, it is the Defendants (Alcorn) suggesting that the proposals be posted online, while the Plaintiffs (Personhuballah) argues that general public input is not necessary or appropriate.

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Voting Laws Are Disabling The Disabled: Easy Nationwide Fixes To Re-Enfranchise Voters With Disabilities

By August Johannsen

Laws affecting voter participation are a current hot topic in the news. Voter identification, early voting, or redistricting laws are all working their way through the legal system almost certainly on their way to the Supreme Court (if they have not reached the high court already). There are mixed opinions on what these laws do. Supporters insist that the laws protect the integrity of elections by preventing voter fraud. Opponents vehemently argue that the laws are simply pretense for stopping poor and minority voters from exercising their rights at the polls. However, one group of minority voters, voters with disabilities, are severely impacted by election administration laws regarding the accessibility of elections. Their story has been largely ignored in the sound-byte thrusts and parries of the politicos and pundits. Continue reading

William & Mary Law’s Winning Map May Prove Useful as Virginia Legislators Head Back to the Drawing Board

By Staff Writer

W&MLaw-Congress map (1)Back in 2011, a team of William & Mary Law students won first place in the Governor/Commission Division for the U.S. Congressional Map category in the Virginia Redistricting Competition. The project may have started merely as an experiment to see whether students might be able to create useful maps using new redistricting software and real data on Virginia voters. But now that a federal court has declared Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District unconstitutional, the map designed by William & Mary students has taken on a whole new level of importance in the drawing of fair and just Congressional districts in Virginia. Continue reading

Redistricting Change Failed: Ohio Issue 2 (2012)

By Christopher Keslar

In the 2012 elections, a Redistricting Amendment to the Ohio Constitution was put on the ballot. Known as Issue 2, the amendment would have created a commission of twelve citizens to draw legislative and congressional maps. The amendment was defeated at the ballot box by a resounding 63% against and 37% for the amendment. To many, partisan redistricting is only a polite way of saying gerrymandering, and this very process of the state legislature choosing who will essentially elect them is provided for in the Ohio Constitution. In fact, the Secretary of State of Ohio, John Husted, wrote in the Washington Post this February, “[I]f government is to be more responsive, it is not the people but the Ohio Constitution that needs to change.” However, it may very well be the case that John Husted was the reason for Issue 2 failing at the ballot box. Continue reading

Gerrymandered or Court Ordered: The Second Re-Drawing Is the Charm for Florida’s Fifth

By: Jonathan Gonzalez

After the first round of judicial wrangling over two allegedly gerrymandered congressional districts, a Florida judge ordered on July 10th 2014 that the Florida fifth and tenth districts be sent back to the drawing board. The dispute arose from the Florida House of Representative’s mandated redrawing of the state’s congressional districts under amendments to Florida’s constitution passed during the 2010 election cycle. The amendments were intended to ensure that legislative districts were drawn cohesively and without favoring any political party. The Republican controlled state legislature interpreted “cohesive” as a mandate to pack African American voters into one district.

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