Judges Urged to Scrap Oregon Remap Lawsuit: Ballots & Boundaries

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The fate of Oregon’s new congressional map is in the hands of five judges.

A special master has recommended that a state Supreme Court-appointed panel reject arguments by four former lawmakers, including ex-Secretary of State Beverly Clarno. The lawsuit claimed the Democratic majority drew a gerrymandered map in a process that gave five of six congressional seats to Democrats.

“The dissatisfaction of some Oregonians with the district plan is not strong evidence that the plan fails to comport” with state law, Judge Henry Breithaupt wrote in recommended findings of fact.

Breithaupt found the ex-lawmakers “have alleged no violation of federal statute or federal constitution,” nor does the record show violations of “any relevant provision of federal statute or federal constitution.”

The panel has until Nov. 24 to approve the congressional map or adopt a different one. Then the state Supreme Court has a Feb. 7 deadline to approve any revisions or make more changes.

The state also is defending against two other lawsuits over legislative boundaries. — Joyce E. Cutler

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UTAH: INDEPENDENT PANEL IGNORED

The Legislative Redistricting Committee ignored the congressional map drawn by Utah’s Independent Redistricting Commission and instead approved its own version, which splits populous Salt Lake County four ways.

The map would benefit Rep. Burgess Owens (R), who narrowly unseated Rep. Ben McAdams (D) in 2020 in the 4th District, which would become the most Republican-friendly district in the state.

The Democratic stronghold of Salt Lake City would be split two ways under the plan ready for a vote by the Republican-controlled legislature in a special session that began today. — Greg Giroux and Deseret News

ALABAMA: DEMOCRATS DEMAND SECOND BLACK-MAJORITY DISTRICT
Right after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed new congressional lines into law, Democrats filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Republican-friendly map is an unlawful racial gerrymander.

Source: Alabama Legislature

Democrats say the map, which would preserve a Republican advantage in six of the seven districts, violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by overconcentrating Black voters in the 7th District of Rep. Terri Sewell, the only Democrat in Alabama’s congressional delegation.

Democrats are petitioning for a second Black-majority district in Alabama, which is about 26% Black. — Greg Giroux

FLORIDA: SUBPOENAS QUASHED IN VOTING LAWSUITS

A federal judge in Florida says seven state lawmakers and a member of the governor’s staff don’t have to face depositions in lawsuits challenging an elections law overhaul (S.B. 90). Voting rights groups had subpoenaed the lawmakers and the governor’s office, seeking answers to questions about their interactions with third parties in drafting the law. But three University of Florida political science professors now have the green light to testify as expert witnesses in those lawsuits, in a reversal announced Friday.

Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) wants Florida lawmakers to create an “Office of Election Crimes and Security” to investigate voting fraud, among other new restrictions. Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz calls DeSantis’ proposal a “clearly political stunt.” — Jennifer Kay

CALIFORNIA: DRAFT MAPS OUT THIS WEEK
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is set to vote on draft congressional and state legislative maps as soon as tomorrow, five days before a court-ordered Nov. 15 deadline to complete the preliminary district maps. The commission will take public comment on the drafts up until delivery of the final maps, expected the week before Christmas. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. PST and could run late into the evening. — Tiffany Stecker

IDAHO: COMMISSION ADOPTS STATUS QUO CONGRESSIONAL MAP
Idaho’s redistricting commission has adopted new congressional boundaries that are similar to the current lines and preserve both districts as Republican strongholds.

Source: Idaho Commission for Reapportionment

The commission continued a long tradition of having the district boundary line run through Ada County, which includes the state capital of Boise. — Greg Giroux

MONTANA: TENTATIVE CONGRESSIONAL PLAN APPROVED

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission has approved a tentative final map that divides the state into two congressional districts, one in the east and the second in the mountainous west.

The state currently has one at-large member in the U.S. House of Representatives. The commission must submit its final plan to the Montana secretary of state by Nov. 14. — Tripp Baltz

Caught Our Eye

  • The U.S. Census Bureau undercounted Texas and California, overcounted Minnesota and missed a lot of kids. But it could have been a lot worse. (Bloomberg CityLab)

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To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at jkay@bloomberglaw.com; Tiffany Stecker in Sacramento, Calif. at tstecker@bgov.com; Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bgov.com; Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at jcutler@bloomberglaw.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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