Lawmakers Pledge to Reform, But Gerrymandering Keeps Getting Worse (by John Avlon, Daily Beast) In New York, 186 state legislators swore to support non-partisan redistricting efforts when they ran for office in the angry, anti-incumbent year of 2010. Most came down with convenient amnesia when they got back to Albany. The brinksmanship has continued despite promises by Governor Andrew Cuomo to veto nakedly partisan district lines and the efforts of good government group coalitions like ReShapeNY (on which, full disclosure, I serve on the advisory board.) Not only are New York’s redistricting maps still not set, initial glimpses have shown the same old partisan games, with potential rivals drawn out into different districts by incumbents seeking to preserve their power at almost any cost. Mediators and judges are now looming over the legislative impasse. One key dynamic to watch is whether a deal is struck that would at least try to move a state constitutional change forward to create an independent commission in ten years’ time. The principle of short-term self-interest predictably outpaces ethics or honor. New York is one of only two states in the nation to have not yet even voted on lines that will be on the ballot this fall.
Posts Tagged ‘Redistricting’
In a rare afternoon session on Monday, only a month after accepting the case, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard a Texas redistricting dispute that is complicated in every way except its bottom line: four new congressional seats that have the potential to decide which party controls the House of Representatives. The Supreme Court justices signaled, through their questions to the lawyers arguing the case for each side, that it is unlikely the court will simply allow elections for this cycle to go forward using the state’s maps drawn by the legislature last summer, or the interim maps drawn by the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio.
It is widely thought that the Justices will vacate the San Antonio court’s decision on the interim maps and instead allow the D.C. circuit court three judge panel to answer with finality the Section 5 Voting Rights Act questions on the state’s maps drawn by the legislature. All side are impatiently waiting the Supreme Court’s decision.
The D.C. circuit court trial starts Jan 17 and will run through the first week of February. This would at least mean another postponement for Texas’ primary election, and probably means a bifurcated primary.
In an email to party members this morning, Texas Republican Party Chair Steve Munisteri said that a split primary is looking more likely. Munisteri explained that the state conventions planned by the Texas Democratic and Republican parties are set for June and can’t be rescheduled.
“There has to be a primary for at least some races by early April, in order to have the two parties’ state conventions,” Munisteri wrote. “Cancelling the state conventions is not an option for several reasons. First, the already incurred contractual obligations of the parties would jeopardize the financial health of both parties. Second, it is important that the State of Texas be able to pick delegates to the Republican National Convention so that we can have an impact on the Presidential race….Third, the Texas Election Code requires that we have a state convention. And fourth, we need to have elections for party officers, including State Chairman, Vice-Chairman, National Committeeman and Committeewoman, and the members of the State Republican Executive Committee.”
Even if the primary is only delayed until May, instead of June, Munisteri explained that that still would not allow enough time for the Texas Republican Party to properly plan for its June state convention. With few options left, hosting two Texas primaries may end up the only viable solution remaining.
Another change to the primary election schedule will give Texas election officials a genuine headache and Texas tax payers a pain in the wallet. As reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Holding two primaries would likely double the costs to Texas taxpayers, election officials have said. The Texas secretary of state’s office reimburses Republican and Democratic parties around the state for much of the expenses related to hosting the primaries. In 2010, the state paid party organizations .9 million for primary elections and runoffs, state records show.
Locally, the final election schedule is likely to create logistical and financial issues for the Tarrant County Elections Office. Elections Administrator Steve Raborn has said hosting two primaries could end up costing Tarrant County more than 0,000.
Delaying the primaries until June could also pose problems. Raborn noted that many schools that serve as polling places are likely to be closed or undergoing construction or maintenance over the summer.
Other concerns include finding enough election workers over the summer and potential overlap from the local city and school district elections scheduled for May. Runoffs for those elections are currently scheduled for June.
Either way Texas voters and taxpayers look to lose. All because Texas Republicans couldn’t draw fair maps that took into account the state’s rich diversity.
The Supreme Court of the United States late today threw a wrench into Texas’ Democratic and Republican Primary Election and County Convention schedule.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s applications for stay of the lower courts’ redrawn redistricting maps presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court are granted until the court hears oral arguments:
It is ordered that the orders issued by the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas on November 23, 2011, in case Nos. 5:11-CV-360, and 5:11-CV-788, and the order of November 26, 2011, in case No. 5:11-CV-360, are hereby stayed pending further order of the Court.
The stay blocks the court-drawn maps for legislative and congressional districts in Texas, telling the lawyers involved to be ready for oral arguments on Monday, January 9, 2012.
The state asked the court for a stay on maps for congressional, Texas House and Texas Senate maps. The court’s order asks for briefs from the lawyers by December 21, replies by January 3.
Candidates are already filing for office, working against a Thursday, December 15 deadline. Since the stay leaves no defined districts for which to file, that deadline is probably now meaningless, at least for the congressional and state legislative candidates. The current district maps could be replaced with different district maps, if they are redrawn after the Supreme Court rules.
In its request for a stay, the state suggested the congressional and legislative primaries could be delayed from March 6 to May 22. The other primaries — for President, U.S. Senate, and so on — will remain in March. Texas could decide to have split primary elections, or possibly to move the entire election to May 22. The Democratic and Republican county and senate district conventions, originally scheduled for late March, as follow up to the election on March 6, will also have to be rescheduled to possibly early to mid May 2012. Moving the county and senate district conventions to mid May would in turn impact the Democratic Party’s state convention scheduled to start on July 8, 2012.
More analysis @ SCOTUSblog
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2011
APPEALS – JURISDICTION NOTED
PERRY, GOV. OF TX, ET AL. V. PEREZ, SHANNON, ET AL.
PERRY, GOV. OF TX, ET AL. V. DAVIS, WENDY, ET AL.
PERRY, GOV. OF TX, ET AL. V. PEREZ, SHANNON, ET AL.
The applications for stay presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court are granted, and it is ordered that the orders issued by the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas on November 23, 2011, in case Nos. 5:11-CV-360, and 5:11-CV-788, and the order of November 26, 2011, in case No. 5:11-CV-360, are hereby stayed pending further order of the Court. In addition, the applications for stay are treated as jurisdictional statements, and in each case probable jurisdiction is noted. The cases are consolidated and a total of one hour is allotted for oral argument. The briefs of appellants and appellees, not to exceed 15,000 words, are to be filed simultaneously with the Clerk and served upon opposing counsel on or before 2 p.m., Wednesday, December 21, 2011. Reply briefs, not to exceed 15,000 words, are to be filed simultaneously with the Clerk and served upon opposing counsel on or before 2 p.m., Tuesday, January 3, 2012. The cases are set for oral argument on Monday, January 9, 2012, at 1 p.m.
On Friday Sept. 23, 2011, the U.S. Department Justice (USDOJ) said that based on their preliminary investigation, a congressional redistricting map signed into law by Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry appears to have been “adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to Congress.”
USDOJ’s Civil Rights Division specifically challenged the redistricting maps for Texas congressional Districts 23 and 27, which they say would not provide Hispanic citizens with the ability to elect candidates of their choice to the U.S. House of Representatives.
In papers filed with a special three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday Oct. 25, 2011, the Department of Justice and individual parties sharply criticized the standard the State of Texas wants the D.C. panel to use in evaluating arguments about ‘retrogression’ in the state’s redistricting maps.
There is “ample circumstantial evidence” that the congressional and state representative redistricting maps signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry had not only the effect but the intent of limiting the voting power of Hispanic voters, Justice Department lawyers said in the court filing.
From Texas Redistricting by Michael Li
Calling the state’s proposed standard “arbitrary,” the Justice Department argued that “determining whether a minority group has the ‘ability to elect’ a candidate of choice under Section 5 is not as simple as looking at a discrete set of population figures. ‘The legal standard is not total population, voting age population, voting age citizen population or registration, but the ability to elect.’” [DOJ, p. 4]
Arguing that the state’s “analysis of ‘ability to elect’ in both the State House and Congressional plans consists only of wrote application of a population formula,” the DOJ accused the state of confusing ‘ability to elect’ districts under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act with ‘minority opportunity districts’ under section 2 and thus “conflating Section 5 with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court has repeatedly advised against.” [DOJ, p. 5] “Determining whether the ability to elect exists ‘requires a functional analysis of the electoral behavior in the particular jurisdiction or election district.’” [p. 6]
According to DOJ, the state’s proposed house map reduces the number of ability to elect districts from 50 to 45 or 46.
The DOJ argues that the state’s proposed congressional map also is retrogressive, especially in light of “an almost unprecedented increase in the number of seats in its congressional delegation – four – resulting from a State population increase fueled mostly by the increase in the State’s Hispanic population.” [DOJ, p. 21-22]
According to DOJ, “[u]nder the proposed plan, Hispanic voters will lose ground in their existing ability to elect candidates of choice … even though the number of Hispanic majority districts remains the same [at] seven,” pointing to what it says are problems in CD-23 and CD-27. [DOJ, p. 23-24]
The DOJ also disagreed strongly with the state on discriminatory intent arguing “there is substantial factual dispute concerning whether the proposed Congressional and State House plans were enacted with discriminatory purpose,” including numerous issues with the process by which the maps were drawn.
Intervenor groups echoed the DOJ in their briefs, calling the state’s retrogression analysis “simplistic” and accusing the state of improperly trying to shirk its burden of proof on discriminatory intent issues.
The state has until October 31 to file a reply. The D.C. panel holds oral argument on the state’s request for a judgment in its favor on November 2.
Here are the parties’ briefs:
- Intervenors’ joint brief
- Gonzales intervenors
- NAACP/Texas Legislative Black Caucus/African-American members of Congress
- Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force
- State Senator Wendy Davis brief
- DOJ statement of disputed facts
- Ex. 4: Analysis of Dr. Lisa Handley on state house map (H283)
- Ex. 14: Analysis of Dr. Lisa Handley on congressional map (C185)
- Ex. 17: Racially polarized voting analysis for congressional map
Senator Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, said today that he would likely introduce two redistricting map bills into the Senate after committee talks broke down on redistricting. Heath said there was no reason for further conversations with Republicans, who he said did not have authority to negotiate.
Though bipartisan cooperation on redrawing congressional lines was heralded by Republican and Democratic leadership at the start of the session, those talks appear to have now failed.
Heath said that co-chair Rep. David Balmer, R-Centennial, had been sincere in the creation of his maps. He went on to say that it was equally clear to him that Republicans had not been given the authority to negotiate with Democrats.
“When you don’t have authority, there is no place to start talking,” Heath said. “That group had no authority to negotiate with us–that became clear.”
Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, said he would be willing to return to the tables if progress seemed likely, but from what he had seen so far, he said progress was unlikely. He said he had given Heath late bill authority to introduce the redistricting maps.
Republicans have continued to call for Democrats to return to the table and have said they wanted to throw the old maps out and start drawing all new maps.
Talks broke down after Republican maps paid little heed to competitive districts and Democratic maps radically reshaped districts in order to make them more competitive.
Heath said there needed to be a foundation to create a compromise. He said he hoped his bills would start that process.
Heath appeared to have no more interest in continuing discussions in the redistricting committee.
Heath said his bills will be introduced later this week, but told the Colorado Independent that he did not want to say yet whether he had incorporated Republican ideas into his map.
- Honest redistricting – If Senate won’t keep promise, Cuomo must be ready to veto (By News Editorial Board, Buffalo News) The clock is running out. An independent commission needs to be in place to develop draft lines by the start of next year in order to have an impact.
- Republicans should keep pledge on redistricting effort – Republicans shouldn’t back off election promise (EDITORIAL Democrat and Chronicle) Apparently Republicans, including Sens. Michael Nozzolio, Jim Alesi, Joe Robach and George Maziarz, are hoping that voters with short memories will forget the campaign pledges. Worse, they must think voters who bought their reform spiel are fools. But now is the time to depoliticize redistricting. New York only gets a chance to redraw district lines every 10 years based on the census. But Senate Republicans want to drag out the process, making it too late to be in place for next year’s redistricting process.
- North Carolina wants to be like Iowa (by Jason Clayworth, Des Moines Register) Iowa’s redistricting system, which was first used in 1981, is a method where the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency propose boundaries based strictly upon the latest U.S. Census Bureau population estimates without political considerations.
NEW YORK REDISTRICTING
- Independent Commission Still Uncertain, Assembly And Senate Approve Funding For Partisan Redistricting (By Andrew J. Hawkins, City Hall News) While the battle for the creation of an independent redistricting commission rages on, the Legislature is on track to approve funding for the same partisan, lawmaker-driven redistricting taskforce it has been using for years.
- Voices & Viewpoints Fridays at 1 p.m. & 6 p.m. (Denise Franklin, NPR WFDD 88.5) Dr. Omar Ali describes the internal and cultural struggles of Muslim Americans post 911 through observation and personal experiences. In addition, CNN, Telemundo, C-Span 2 and other news outlets frequently seek Dr. Omar Ali as a national expert about the growing movement of people choosing to be Independent voters.
Voices & Viewpoints
Fridays at 1 p.m. & 6 p.m.
Join 88.5 WFDD and host Denise Franklin for conversations with local residents who are making or have made an impact nationally – or internationally.
The Health & Medicine Report keeps you up-to-date on cutting-edge research.
And you’ll hear the viewpoints of our commentators on movies, books, life, and more.
- Obama Makes Beeline For Independent Voters (FRANK JAMES, NPR) The White House push is on for the hearts and minds of independent voters.
- You’ve Got Them All Wrong, Mr. President – Obama’s misguided view of the independent voter. (John B. Judis, The New Republic)
- Idaho Open Primary: The People v. The Parties (The Moderate Voice) Yesterday attorney Harry Kresky reported on his recent trip to Idaho to help defend independents there facing attack from a faction of the Idaho Republican Party hoping to close the primaries in order to control the electorate.
- Phil Power: Open primary would offer advantages (Livingston Daily)
- Drawing the lines (Salt Lake City Tribune) The best way to avoid political gerrymandering would be for Utah to create an independent redistricting commission, but Utah legislators have rejected repeated attempts to do that. An initiative petition by a group called the Fair Boundaries Coalition failed this year to get enough signatures to put its proposal for an independent commission before the voters.
- Michael Bloomberg: Independent can’t win White House (By DAN HIRSCHHORN, Politico) On Monday, The Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman floated the possibility that Bloomberg and MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough, who is also a POLITICO contributor, could form an independent ticket for the White House.
- Bloomberg Denies Presidential Rumors. Again. (By Sumathi Reddy, Wall Street Journal/Metropolis)
- Curry concedes to Wilson in HD-61 race (by Curtis Wackerle, Aspen Daily News)
- WE ARE ALL MUMIA! (By Betsey Piette, Workers World) Abu-Jamal’s supporters included a delegation from the Transport Workers Union Local 100; Charles Barron, the New York Freedom Party gubernatorial candidate; Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, NYC; International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; and the International Action Center.
- The Godfather – With the UWS-WFP-NYT axis dominating local politics, this is Jerry Nadler’s New York (By Edward-Isaac Dovere, City Hall News)
- A to-do list for N.Y.C. Schools Chancellor Cathie Black: Eva Moskowitz lays out her priorities (BY EVA MOSKOWITZ, Daily News)
- Soros: Obama shouldn’t compromise (By KENNETH P. VOGEL, Politico)
California continues to lead the way in political reform. Back in June, passage of Prop 14, the Top Two Open Primary referendum, enfranchised 3.4 million independent decline-to-state voters in the state in the first round of voting.
And now, as Committee for a Unified Independent Party (IndependentVoting.org) Chief of Staff John Opdycke reported last week, voters in Florida are speaking out on the need for political reform:
Proposition 20-which expanded the California Redistricting Commission’s mandate to include Congressional districts-passed by 20 points. In addition, Proposition 27, a bi-partisan ploy to dismantle the Commission, was defeated by a similar margin.
And in Florida, the voters passed Amendment 5 by a 25 point margin. Its passage establishes clear, non-partisan guidelines for the drawing of legislative districts.
Opdycke goes on to point out the significance of these votes:
While the big story yesterday was the new Republican Congressional majority, the victory for redistricting reform in California and Florida was an important subtext. The Democratic and Republican Parties have mastered the non-developmental game of capturing and recapturing the approximately 60 competitive Congressional districts. But this back and forth blood sport-while making for good copy-does not provide the American people the opportunity to fully express their desire for change. When voters have the opportunity to speak directly, as they did in Florida and California, without being filtered by the political parties, reform passes overwhelmingly.
- Voters make right call on redistricting (LA Daily Breeze) itizen redistricting will be a huge improvement over Legislature-drawn districts, which were so gerrymandered in 2001 that it’s almost impossible for any seat to change hands from one party to the other.
- What really happened in the 2010 election (By E.J. Dionne, Washington Post) Incumbent Democrats suffered a genuine backlash of voter discontent due to a weak economy with considerable concerns about job creation, deep skepticism among independents, poor turnout among key base groups, and strong enthusiasm among energized conservatives.
- Can the Tea Party endure? (CNN International) The midterm elections dealt a powerful blow to President Obama and the Democratic Party as the country appeared to shift decisively to the right, moved by mass anger, “due to a combination of two kinds of fear,” historian Michael Kazin told CNN.
- Curry’s write-in campaign creates confusion in HD 61 vote tally – Democratic officials call for recount (By Jessica Fender, The Denver Post)
- Bloomberg to America: Lay Off The Chinese (By Peter Stein, Wall Street Journal/Metropolis)
- Working Families Party To Row D? We’ll See… (By Celeste Katz, Daily News/Daily Politics)
- Working Families Party Looks To Better Ballot Placement (By David Freedlander, NY Observers)
Howie Hawkins Saves Green Party, loads trucks (By Nick Rizzo, Capital)
- New York Working Families Party Likely to Have Received More Votes for Governor than Independence Party (Ballot Access News)
- Schumer Passes On Leadership Speculation, Warns Against Independent Redistricting For Congress (By Edward-Isaac Dovere, City Hall)
- Charter Commissioner Launching Effort To Take Third Term Away From Electeds Grandfathered In (By Chris Bragg, City Hall)
The Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee is holding hearings across the state about legislative redistricting and it is essential to have your voice heard. For the past 3 years Democrats have fought for a fair, non-partisan process. But each year, the Republican House of Delegates killed those bills.
Therefore it’s more important, now than ever to make sure your voice is heard. Please attend and share your thoughts on the process.
The public hearings are:
Wed., Oct. 27, 7 p.m.
Virginia Western Community College Natural Science Center
3102 Colonial Ave. SW
Thurs., Nov. 4, 7 p.m.
Herndon Town Council Chambers
765 Lynn St.
Thurs., Dec. 2, 7 p.m.
The Forum, Building A, Tidewater Community College
120 Campus Dr.
Fri., Dec. 17, 11 .m.
Senate Room B, General Assembly Building, Capitol Square
Thanks for all you do,
Chairman , Democratic Party of Virginia
This is one of the last notes from Dick as Chairman, once again he has announced he is stepping down.
Read on for the details.
Dick Cranwell steps down as Virginia Democratic Party chairman, Again
Virginia Democratic Party Chairman C. Richard Cranwell told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he intends to step down by December from the post he has held for five years.
The Roanoke lawyer and former House of Delegates Majority Leader said in an interview that will announce his decision on
Wednesday. He said he has informed Democratic legislative and congressional leaders and top staff of the Democratic Party of Virginia of his decision.
His announcement comes three weeks ahead of congressional elections in Virginia that could reverse the three U.S. House
seats the Democrats gained in 2008 to take a majority of the state’s 11 House spots.
It also comes after the Democrats took a trouncing in the 2009 gubernatorial race. Republicans won the office in a rout as well as the other two statewide elected offices.
“We’ve had some success during my time as chairman and we’ve taken a bust in the snout while I’ve been chairman, but I think the momentum of this year’s election is starting to swing our way,”
Cranwell said in a telephone interview.
Under Cranwell’s watch, Virginia Democrats elected Timothy M. Kaine governor in 2005, U.S. Senators Jim Webb in 2006 and
Mark R. Warner in 2008, and carried the state for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
Also in the 2008 Democratic sweep, the party took from the Republicans U.S. House seats in the 2nd, 5th and 11th Districts. This year, the GOP has targeted those first-year Democrats for defeat, and with polls showing President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress unpopular, Democratic losses in Virginia appear likely.
It’s the second time since 2008 that Cranwell has announced plans to step aside. He said in late 2008 he intended to leave early the next year, but reversed himself in March 2009, preferring to stay on to aid the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial nominee R. Creigh Deeds.
Deeds’ campaign floundered, however, as Republican Bob McDonnell won with nearly 59 percent of the vote. The GOP also
picked up seats in the Virginia House of Delegates for the first time since the elections of 2001.
The search for a successor has been under way for weeks with Warner, Kaine and others trying to persuade 2009 gubernatorial contender Brian J. Moran of Alexandria to replace Cranwell.
Moran was described Tuesday as “the first among equals,” should he resolve issues regarding his family and his job that would allow him to hold the post.
Others under consideration include Greg Werkheiser, who raised and spent about 0,000 in a 2009 bid to unseat Del. David
Albo, R-Fairfax County, and Michael Signer, a Democratic strategist who unsuccessfully sought the party’s nomination for
lieutenant governor last year.
State Democratic leaders knew Cranwell would not stay on for another year, but they were surprised that he is announcing his decision before the Nov. 2 elections.