Arizona Governor Wants New Voting Laws: Ballots & Boundaries

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Even though Arizona’s unusual election review confirmed that President Joe Biden won Maricopa County, the state’s governor predicts the exercise will lead to new state laws.

“There are additional reforms we intend to make next year, including raising the threshold for recounts,” Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said on Twitter.

Cyber Ninjas, a company with no election review experience hired by the state Senate to recount roughly 2.1 million ballots, found vote tallies nearly identical to the county’s official results. CEO Doug Logan recommended changes to election procedures.

Senate President Karen Fann (R) is asking Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) to consider investigating. — Brenna Goth

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TEXAS: PROPOSED MAP ADDS THREE RED DISTRICTS

To get a sense for just how much redder a draft redistricting plan might make Texas’s next congressional delegation, the Texas Tribune compared the Legislature’s proposed lines to actual voting.

Their 38-district map (up from the current 36) includes 25 districts that voted for Donald Trump in 2020, up from 22. Thirteen proposed districts supported President Joe Biden, down from the current 14.

The map also merges the districts of two Democratic incumbents, U.S. representatives Al Greenand Sheila Jackson Lee, in the Houston area.

One Republican seat, the 2nd Congressional District held by Rep. Dan Crenshaw, would overlap with Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia‘s 29th Congressional District north of Houston. —Tiffany Stecker

COLORADO: FINAL VOTE SCHEDULED TODAY

Members of the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission began winnowing through 29 different map proposals to meet a deadline today to vote on a final map.

Eight of the 12 commissioners—two of whom must be independents—must vote in favor of the final plan for congressional districts, or the “third staff plan,” will move forward as the default.

That map would create a new 8th Congressional District that would be the state’s most competitive, and most Latino, at 35.8% of the population.

It also would leave the other districts largely as they are now, creating three safe GOP districts, three safe Democratic, and a seventh district that leans Democratic. The commission staff must submit a final map to the Colorado Supreme Court by Friday. — Tripp Baltz.

OREGON: SIGNED INTO LAW

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed off on majority-drawn congressional and legislative district maps that maintain her party’s advantage after minority Republicans gave in and allowed the maps to advance yesterday.

It’s only the third time since 1911 that the legislature succeeded in passing electoral maps, and the second time in 40 years the state added a congressional seat.

House Republicans were a no-show Sept. 25 at a scheduled special session, denying a quorum. Enough Republicans finally voted that a redrawn map is now set. It gives the GOP a solid, rural district and a shot at a competitive district, while Democrats dominate in four of the six congressional districts. — Joyce E. Cutler

INDIANA: IT’S GOOD TO BE AN INCUMBENT

Indiana lawmakers are on track to give final passage to an incumbent-favoring congressional redistricting plan (H.B. 1581).

It would preserve districts Republicans effectively gerrymandered in 2011 to produce the current seven-two split in the legislature.

The big winner from the map is Rep. Victoria Spartz(R), who won by four points in 2020. Her district now becomes much safer after drawing out some Indianapolis suburbs. – Alex Ebert

CALIFORNIA: NEW MAPS DUE BY DEC. 27

California has new redistricting deadlines and voting laws.

The state Supreme Court has ruledthat the state redistricting commission must certify its maps for congressional, state legislative, and Board of Equalization districts by Dec. 27, with draft maps due by Nov. 15.

The new date gives the commission 12 more days past the original deadline of Dec. 15.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) yesterday signed a slate of 11 bills expanding voting access and making changes to election rules, including a measure to send every registered voter a ballot in the mail for all future elections (A.B. 37). —Tiffany Stecker

PENNSYLVANIA: ‘BAD THINGS WILL COME’

Pennsylvania Senate Republicans face more legal challenges over subpoenas seeking personal information from nine million voters. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro sued the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee on behalf of the state and its acting secretary of state. One Senate Democrat and his wife say they’re suing because “only bad things will come” from the release of voter data that includes the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, birth dates, names, and addresses.

Pennsylvania Senate Democrats also sued. The chair of the GOP-led committee, Sen. Cris Dush, says, “The purpose of our review is to find the flaws in the system and identify how to address them, and we cannot do that properly without access to the information we subpoenaed.” — Jennifer Kay

MISSISSIPPI: JIM CROW VOTING SHADOW

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard oral arguments en banc over a Jim Crow-era provision in the Mississippi Constitution that prohibits people convicted of certain felonies from regaining their right to vote. A lawsuit filed in 2017 challenged the provision added in 1890 to keep Black people from voting.

Donald Verrilli Jr., former solicitor general under President Barack Obama, argued for the plaintiffs that voters never had the opportunity to consider the original list of disenfranchising felonies drawn up by state lawmakers. The state says the provision should stand, noting voters approved removing burglary from the list in 1950 and adding murder and rape to it in 1968.

The list of felony convictions that would permanently strip someone of their right to vote also includes bribery, theft, arson, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, bigamy, and obtaining money or goods under a false pretense. To regain their voting rights, ex-felons must either obtain a governor’s pardon or approval from two-thirds of the Mississippi Legislature. — Jennifer Kay

WISCONSIN: COURT IS READY TO RUMBLE

A trial will be held in January to resolve any litigation over the failure to finalize legislative and congressoinal maps, a federal judge ruled.

Gov. Tony Evers (D), the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature, five GOP members of Congress, and the Wisconsin Elections Commission are entangled in litigation that alleges the state’s current maps are malapportioned and unconstitutional and shouldn’t be used in any election until new, fair, and legal maps are in place.

There’s clearly plenty of time for them all to work together and complete the maps without making the judiciary do it. — Stephen Joyce

FLORIDA: PUBLIC PARTICIPATION LIMITS

A new website may be the main way Floridians get to voice an opinion on redistricting.

Florida House redistricting committee Chairman Rep. Tom Leek (R) says constitutional deadlines, the delay in getting U.S. Census data because of the pandemic, and increased public access to data and map-drawing software may make holding hearings outside the state Capitol difficult or unnecessary.

Comments and maps may be submitted online at www.floridaredistricting.gov. To avoid “shadow” map-drawing by political operatives, submitters must disclose whether they have been compensated. — Jennifer Kay

PENNSYLVANIA: COUNTING STATE PRISONERS

Roughly 3,000 Pennsylvania inmates whose sentences end after April 1, 2030, will be counted in legislative redistricting where they’re incarcerated, not in their home communities, state lawmakers have decided. That’s in addition to about 4,000 inmates serving life sentences who will be counted at state prisons, under a policy originally approved in August.

There are over 44,000 people incarcerated in Pennsylvania state prisons. The amended policy doesn’t apply to federal prisons or county jails, and it won’t affect congressional district maps. — Jennifer Kay

ILLINOIS: REPUBLICANS DON’T LIKE SECOND SET OF MAPS, EITHER

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed another bill (S.B. 927) approving new state House and Senate district maps he said reflect the state’s diversity and preserve minority representation. Republicans had a different view. Again.

The governor approved an initial set of maps June 4, but after U.S. Census Bureau population data was released Aug. 12 the Illinois Legislature redrew those maps.

Republicans keep reminding Pritzker (D) of a campaign promise to veto maps drawn by politicians. “Governor Pritzker’s signing of the legislative maps sends a clear picture of the severity of his ‘retrograde amnesia’ and efforts to deceive Illinois citizens,” state House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said in a statement. — Stephen Joyce

Caught Our Eye

  • The Yakama Reservation was united in all four draft maps released by the Washington State Redistricting Commission. But the city of Yakima remains divided in the draft maps. (Yakima Herald)
  • Citizen enforcement of Texas abortion ban could spread to other laws. (PEW)
  • Comedian John Oliver shared some opinions about voting legislation in the states this year. (YouTube)

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To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at jkay@bloomberglaw.com; Brenna Goth in Phoenix at bgoth@bloomberglaw.com; Stephen Joyce in Chicago at sjoyce@bloomberglaw.com; Tiffany Stecker in Sacramento, Calif. at tstecker@bgov.com; Tripp Baltz in Denver at abaltz@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tina May at tmay@bloomberglaw.com; Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com

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