State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: gerrymander

Shifting Deadlines: How Changes in the Statutory Redistricting Deadlines Will Impact California’s Elections and Voters (Part 1 of 2)

By: Elizabeth Profaci

After California passed the Voters FIRST Act (“the Act”) in 2008, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (“the Commission”) has drawn the state’s legislative and congressional districts. Among other provisions pertaining to the work of the Commission, the Act provides deadlines for the release of draft maps for public comment, approval, and certification the Commission must follow. The Act requires the Commission to release at least one set of draft maps by July 1 of the year following the census and the California Constitution requires that final maps must be approved and certified to the Secretary of State by August 15 of that same year.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays with the release of census data, which makes complying with these statutory and constitutional deadlines impossible. Recognizing this difficulty, the Legislature of the State of California filed an emergency petition requesting a writ of mandate to adjust the deadlines. In Legislature v. Padilla, the California Supreme Court granted the Legislature’s motion and adjusted the deadlines to require the Commission to release the first map drafts for public comment by November 1, 2021 and to approve and certify the final maps by December 15, 2021. Additionally, the court concluded that “relevant state deadlines should be shifted accordingly” in the event of “further federal delay.” In light of the court’s holding, the Legislature adopted SB 594 in September 2021, which would codify the holding in Padilla.

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Efforts to Challenge Pennsylvania’s 2011 Redistricting Continue into 2017

By: Scott McMurty

Election law—and particularly map drawing—in Pennsylvania carries the potential to have significant impacts on the composition of government in Washington, as the state has long been considered a battleground in national elections. Yet despite its reputation for competitiveness, Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation has consisted of thirteen Republicans and just five Democrats in the past three Congresses, following a redistricting overhaul by the Republican-controlled state legislature in 2011. This imbalance has sparked calls for redistricting reform in Pennsylvania, and in June became the subject of a legal challenge in Commonwealth Court by the League of Women Voters and disgruntled voters from some of the state’s more “convoluted” districts.

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