State of Elections

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Tag: discrimination

Political Process Breakdown: What Happens When the Political Branches Cannot Agree on a Map?

By: Kayla Burris

What happens when the governor and state legislature disagree on how to draw a state’s legislative districts? Should the courts get involved? And how soon should they get involved—at the beginning of the process, or closer to the primaries?

State and federal courts in Wisconsin are grappling with these questions. Two tandem tracks of cases are proceeding—one in the Wisconsin Supreme Court and one consolidated case in the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

To set the scene, Wisconsin is one of the most politically divided states in the country with a Republican legislature and a Democratic governor—both of which are required to agree on a legislative map according to Wisconsin law. Thus far in the redistricting cycle, the two sides seem unlikely to come to an agreement on the new legislative map. The Democratic governor has said that “it’s unlikely he would sign into law any maps drawn by the Republican-controlled [l]egislature that are based on the current boundary lines that have solidified GOP majorities for decades.” The governor instead favors using a nonpartisan commission to draw the maps. The Republican-controlled legislature on the other hand argues for retaining the current maps to the extent possible under the law.

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Is it Really Jim Crow 2.0? The DOJ Seems to Think So

By: Lubna Alamri

In March 2021, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed into law the “Election Integrity Act of 2021”, a law that many have criticized as an effort by Republicans to suppress the minority vote after President Biden’s election and the Democrats’ win of both Senate seats in Georgia.

Most of the controversy surrounding the new law stems from its efforts to tighten limits on absentee voting . Among some of its more notable provisions, the law now requires voters to obtain a voter ID number in order to apply for an absentee ballot, cuts off absentee ballot applications 11 days before an election, and limits the number of drop boxes in each given county. One of the more unusual provisions includes a prohibition on the distribution of food and drink to voters waiting in lines, that is despite Georgia having some of the Nation’s longest waiting lines, especially in heavily minority populated areas.

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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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The Crossroads of America v. The Lone Star State: Comparison of Indiana and Texas ID Laws

By: Katie Teeters

Voter ID laws are spreading across the country leaving controversies in their wakes. Advocates believe requiring ID is a good way to prevent in-person voter fraud and increase public confidence in the election process, while opponents say that voter ID laws unduly burden the right to vote. Still, a total of 36 states have passed laws requiring a showing of some form of identification in order to vote. This blog post will take a look at voter ID laws and their respective implications in Texas and Indiana.

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Can a Tempest, a Tea Party Make?

The teapot is still boiling briskly in the City of Falls Church, a Northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., over recent changes in the regulations governing municipal elections. By a 4-3 vote in January 2010, the then Mayor and City Council was successful in changing city elections from even-numbered years in May to odd-numbered years in November. Appropriately, the City submitted the change to the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, for review and clearance as required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Department subsequently reviewed and approved the change. The result is that, during the transition years, Council-Member terms will be shortened by six months. Then, in the May 2010 election, a major shakeup in the government occurred. The new Mayor, Nader Baroukh, a former City Council member who opposed the change, along with re-elected City-Council-members who were also opponents, is making efforts to “undo” the changes and to submit the matter to the citizens of the City in a referendum. Predictably, many residents of the City are hopping mad.  Continue reading

Some will Win, Some will Lose, Some States are Born to Sing the Blues: The Coming Battle Over Reapportionment

The stakes are incredibly high, reapportionment is looming, and recent data from Election Data Services shows that neither Democrats nor Republicans will be too pleased come next year. States which have been recently labeled as ‘safe Republican’ in Presidential elections will gain seats, but in more Democratically inclined areas. States recently labeled as ‘safe Democrat’ in Presidential elections will lose some seats. The biggest gain will be in Texas. Texas can expect to gain four House seats, at least some of which will be placed in locations more favorable to Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, New York, a state typically labeled as ‘safe Democrat’ in Presidential elections, will likely lose two House seats. In terms of multi-district moves, Florida will likely gain two seats and Ohio will likely lose two seats. Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington will all likely gain a seat while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania will all likely lose a seat.

Reapportionment is becoming a problem not only for certain Presidential candidates but also state and federal candidates, especially candidates in the Midwest where rapid population flight is decimating the electoral landscape. The close electoral math is mapping onto reapportionment strategy. Democrats and Republicans are locked in a mortal struggle to gain control of state houses and governor’s mansions across the nation, in anticipation of being able to influence the composition of both state legislatures and Congress over the next decade. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

Due to a loophole in Florida election law, a violation can go without any punishment. On September 30, a Florida District Court of Appeals ruled that because the statute allowed candidates to opt for an administrative hearing regarding their violations but didn’t give those courts the power to levy sanctions, candidates could violate election law and not be penalized. This was caused by a “glitch” in the legislation and was not intentional. Florida Election Commission Chairman says that it won’t affect the cases for this year’s elections because the legislature will have an opportunity to fix it before they’re heard.

According to the 9th Circuit, Washington doesn’t discriminate against minorities in prison. The Court ruled on October 7 that the Washington felon disenfranchisement law, which prohibits incarcerated felons from voting, does not constitute discrimination despite disproportionately affecting minorities. In January, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit held 2-1 that incarcerated felons should be allowed to vote. Sitting en banc to reconsider the decision, the Court unanimously upheld the law. The Court ruled that the felons must show “intentional discrimination” on the part of the state and not merely that the law does discriminate, something the prisoners failed to do in this case. Continue reading

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