Florida Fraud Squad Now a Signature Away: Ballots & Boundaries

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is about to get the election cop squad he dreamed up despite his state party chairman bragging about 2020’s “gold standard” security and the governor himself tweeting about it being a model for the rest of the country.

Legislation he sought to create an “Office of Elections Crimes and Security” (S.B. 524) won final approval and is ready for DeSantis (R) to sign. Lawmakers were unswayed by arguments from Democrats who said the goal is to intimidate minority voters.

Next door in Georgia, a bill’s been introduced (H.B. 1464) that would give the state Bureau of Investigation the jurisdiction to investigate election fraud, and the topic has worked its way into the gubernatorial campaign, with ex-Sen. David Perdue (R) offering a DeSantis-like proposal. — Jennifer Kay


Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed a congressional district plan that would have kept a single majority-Black seat in a state where roughly one-third of the residents are Black.

“This map is simply not fair to the people of Louisiana and does not meet the standards set forth in the federal Voting Rights Act,” Edwards (D) said in his veto statement. Elias Law Group LLP filed a lawsuit in Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court asking it to draw a new map. — Jennifer Kay

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The Ohio Supreme Court has all the information it asked for to rule on challenges to congressional and legislative maps approved by the state redistricting commission. If the court rejects any of the maps, that could derail plans for the May 3 primary, at least for U.S. House and state offices affected by redistricting.

Republican leaders, including Secretary of State Frank LaRose, want the court to uphold the last GOP-friendly map the commission approved. The national Democratic group headed by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has asked the court to take charge of map-drawing and postpone the primary. Other challengers proposed adjusting two congressional districts in the commission’s map.

There’s no deadline for a decision. — Kenneth P. Doyle


Five to Go

The finished maps:
Alabama|Arizona | Arkansas | California| Colorado |Connecticut |Georgia |Hawaii| Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi |Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Jersey | New Mexico |New York | North Carolina | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island |South Carolina |Tennessee| Texas | Utah | Virginia|Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin

One common thread jumps out in dissecting seven Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinions explaining their congressional map decision: the justices say they wouldn’t have to be in the redistricting business if Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and the Republican-led legislature had done their jobs.

“We decide this case not because we want to but because we have to as a result of the intransigent inability of the two other co-equal branches of government to fulfill their constitutional obligations and reach a compromise agreement,” wrote Justice Kevin Dougherty (D), who, like all his colleagues, wrote a separate opinion.

All seven documents were filed this week after the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in. None of the three dissenting opinions (one from a Democrat and two by Republicans) support the plan that had been recommended by the lower court. — Jennifer Kay

Wisconsin’s Republican members of Congress have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the state’s new district lines and either allow a re-do or require the use of the GOP-drawn map that was vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers (D).

The five House members argue that the map chosen by the state Supreme Court is unconstitutional. — The Associated Press

A Missouri congressional candidate has filed a state court suit as lawmakers remain at loggerheads over how to redraw districts before this year’s elections.

Paul Berry III (R) seeks to prod state lawmakers to pass new congressional districts or have the court do it. Berry is one of seven candidates in the 2nd Congressional District, a seat held by Republican Rep. Ann Wagner.

The state legislature started its spring break without finishing new maps for this year’s election. — The Associated Press and the Columbia Missourian

The latest redistricting-litigation dissents show that four U.S. Supreme Court justices are interested in a legal theory that would shift more federal election power to the state legislatures now disproportionately controlled by Republicans.

Known as the “independent state legislature doctrine,” the theory “would be a massive and highly disruptive change, and would give the Supreme Court unprecedented authority over election law,” said Carolyn Shapiro, a Chicago-Kent College of Law professor who has written a new law review article criticizing the approach. — Greg Stohr

Caught Our Eye

  • This year’s congressional map, despite continued gerrymandering, is poised to have a nearly equal number of districts that lean Democratic and Republican. (The New York Times)
  • States want to boost protections for threatened local election officials. (Stateline)
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is considering the future of the state’s mail-in voting law. (Spotlight PA)
  • The Harris County, Texas, election chief resigned over a fumbled primary vote count. (The Texas Tribune)


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To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at jkay@bloomberglaw.com; Kenneth P. Doyle in Washington at kdoyle@bgov.com

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