Florida, Louisiana Go Nowhere in Efforts to Finish Congress Maps

Bloomberg Government subscribers get the stories like this first. Act now and gain unlimited access to everything you need to know. Learn more.

Lawmakers in Florida have yet to officially deliver their congressional redistricting legislation to the governor (who says he’ll veto it anyway) and their counterparts in Louisiana haven’t been told what their post-veto steps will be.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said yesterday that the congressional map he rejected was “most egregious” for failing to add a second majority-Black district to reflect the state’s demographics. He also said he’d sign a bill (H.B. 562) establishing an independent redistricting commission (though there’s no sign of sufficient support for that in the Republican-led state Legislature).

Florida’s legislature ended its regular session yesterday, after which Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) reiterated his intention to veto the congressional map that’s on the way to his desk, slowly. (It wasn’t formally there as of last night.)

Some voters and voting rights groups already have asked state and federal courts to intervene. It’s possible that judges will take over from the politicians and draw the new congressional lines in both states. — Jennifer Kay

(Was this newsletter forwarded to you? It’s free. SUBSCRIBE )

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

Redistricting Litigation

NEW YORK: DAY TWO
Expert testimony continued this morning in the New York Supreme Court.

The plaintiffs, lead by Republicans, say Democrats violated the state constitution by aggressively gerrymandering the congressional and state Senate district lines. Attorneys for state Democratic leaders say their maps are constitutional and that the state Senate maps actually fix gerrymandering done by state Senate Republicans in 2012. — Keshia Clukey

MARYLAND: DAY ONE

The bench trial over Maryland’s new congressional map kicks off today in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, where the state will defend claims from two Republican lawsuits that the map is so tilted toward Democrats that it violates the Maryland Constitution. — Washington Post

OHIO: STILL WAITING
The Ohio Supreme Court set a new deadline of this afternoon for Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission to answer whether the commission should be named in legal challenges to congressional and legislative maps.

On a separate track, U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley is giving the state judges a little more time before potentially stepping in, Cleveland.com reported.

Meanwhile, state Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy told fellow Republicans the battle over redistricting is “the fight of our life” which didn’t sit well with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, head of a Democratic group challenging the Ohio maps.

In an interview with Bloomberg Government, he said it was “a little disturbing to hear a sitting justice commenting on a pending matter in the way that she did.”

State officials need to decide soon whether to postpone the May 3 primary, at least for offices affected by redistricting. — Kenneth P. Doyle

MISSOURI: ‘IMPASSE’ LAWSUIT
Democratic lawyers are asking a Missouri court to redraw the state’s eight congressional districts because of an impasse in the Republican-controlled state Legislature.

A lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City, the state capital, says the Missouri Senate is “hopelessly deadlocked.” A new map won’t be ready by the March 29 candidate filing deadline unless a supermajority of the state Legislature enacts it with an “emergency clause” that would give it immediate effect.

The Missouri House has passed a map that would favor Republicans in six of eight districts, like current district lines. Some Republican senators are demanding a “7–1″ map that also would dismantle the Kansas City district of Democrat Emanuel Cleaver, while adding more Republicans to the suburban St. Louis 2nd District of Republican Ann Wagner.

The state’s already more than halfway through the five-week candidate filing period. — Greg Giroux

WISCONSIN: SCOTUS HAIL MARY
Five congressional Republicans are making a last-ditch effort to thwart maps approved by the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. They’ve gone to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett has set a deadline of 5 p.m. today for responses to the application for a stay.

Wisconsin Deputy Attorney General Eric Wilson is arguing that a stay would cause confusion, as candidates wouldn’t know what district they’re in when they circulate nomination papers. A delay also could wreck the April 15 deadline from being met at all, Wilson argued. — Stephen Joyce

Election Law

GEORGIA: FAST-MOVING PROPOSAL
If Coca-Cola Co., Home Depot Inc., and other corporations that donated to help counties update their election equipment want to do it again, they’d have no control over who they help under a bill on a fast path in the Georgia General Assembly.

The proposal (H. B. 1464) calls for the state Elections Board to disburse funds or equipment in any place or manner that it wishes, regardless of a donor’s intention. The board also would have the authority to reject donations.

The legislation would give the Georgia Bureau of Investigation the power to launch criminal investigations of alleged election fraud and it would allow members of the public to review paper ballots — instead of digital copies — without a court order, as now required.

The Republican-sponsored measure emerged suddenly last week and is on track to be passed by today’s deadline for bills to clear one of the General Assembly’s two chambers. A group of national and state progressive organizations says it plans to spend $1.4 million on a lobbying and digital ad campaign against the bill. — Margaret Newkirk

COLORADO: ‘INSIDER THREATS’
Colorado’s top election official wants state law to blacklist people from overseeing elections if they’ve been convicted of election-related offenses, sedition or insurrection.

“I don’t think we were thinking about insider threats before Mesa,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) said yesterday. “We have lots of safeguards, but the idea that someone elected to uphold elections would try to destroy from within was shocking to the election community in Colorado.”

A grand jury returned 10 criminal counts against Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and six counts against Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley in its investigation over a potential election equipment security breach. The bill Griswold backs (S. B. 153) also would require electronic key cards, with their uses logged, to access voting systems and 24-hour video surveillance. — Denver Post

Caught Our Eye

  • Sheriff faces felony charges for allegedly filing false voter registration and nomination papers with a nonpermanent address (Los Angeles Times)
  • Idaho candidate for secretary of state focuses on claims that Canadians voted here (Idaho Capital Sun)
  • Texas Democratic voter participation dipped in the recent primary, while GOP turnout increased slightly (Texas Observer)
  • What happened when an elections office was targeted by those who claim the 2020 election was a fraud (Washington Post)

Looking Ahead

Resources

Add Us to Your Inbox

Click HERE to sign up for Ballots & Boundaries, your check-in on redistricting, state voting laws, and initiatives.

With assistance from Emily Wilkins and Andrew Small

To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at jkay@bloomberglaw.com; Kenneth P. Doyle in Washington at kdoyle@bgov.com; Keshia Clukey in Albany, N.Y. at kclukey@bloomberglaw.com; Stephen Joyce in Chicago at sjoyce@bloomberglaw.com; Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bgov.com

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

Stay informed with more news like this – from the largest team of reporters on Capitol Hill – subscribe to Bloomberg Government today. Learn more.

Top