Ohio Primary Date Threatened by Lawsuits: Ballots & Boundaries

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The Ohio Supreme Court’s due to get a little more input today in a redistricting case. We’re watching both the congressional and legislative map litigation to see if Republican-tilting districts are allowed to stand and whether the timing of elections may change.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose says maps need to be firmed up soon so that ballot printing and voter system programming for the May 3 primaries can list candidates correctly.

The Pentagon has rejected LaRose’s request to delay a March 18 deadline to send ballots to military and overseas voters. If the court holds out for non-gerrymandered (or less gerrymandered) maps, the Ohio Legislature would have to change the primary date, either for all offices or for those affected by redistricting.

The court set today as a deadline for Republicans on the state Redistricting Commission to file a response brief. — Kenneth P. Doyle

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NORTH CAROLINA, PENNSYLVANIA MAPS STAY

The U.S. Supreme Court turned away Republican challenges to congressional maps drawn by state courts in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

In the Pennsylvania case, the court rejected a claim that the state Supreme Court improperly drew its own map when the legislature and Democratic governor couldn’t agree. Republicans are now looking for help from a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

“Nothing short of an invitation to chaos” is how attorneys for the state described the GOP request for the Supreme Court to order Pennsylvania to hold at-large elections until lawmakers draw a new map. — Greg Stohr and Jennifer Kay

NEW HAMPSHIRE: MAP ADVANCES
A Republican-led state Senate committee advanced a congressional map that targets two-term Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas.

The map would shift Republican voters into Pappas’ Manchester-area 1st District while sending Democrats into the 2nd District of Democrat Annie Kuster, who would become more politically secure. The state House passed the map in January, when Gov. Chris Sununu said “we can probably do better” and questioned why Republicans would concede Kuster’s district. Sununu stopped short of saying he would veto the map, though. — Greg Giroux

WISCONSIN: LITIGATION
Republicans would have a clear path to a lopsided 6–2 edge in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation under a redistricting plan the Wisconsin Supreme Court approved.

The court, in a 4–3 decision, opted for a configuration that offers Republicans a pickup opportunity. The 3rd District of retiring Rep. Ron Kind (D) remains almost exactly the same, and Derrick Van Orden (R), who almost unseated Kind in 2020, is running again.

Even so, the GOP wants a map that makes Kind’s district more Republican-friendly. Lawyers for Wisconsin’s five House Republicans asked the state Supreme Court to stay its ruling and said they plan to ask the U.S. Supreme Court for an injunction. — Greg Giroux

Read more: Wisconsin Supreme Court Locks in 6–2 GOP Redistricting Advantage

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

FLORIDA and LOUISIANA: VETO WATCH

No sign yet of a redistricting decision by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), who has five more days to sign, veto or silently allow the legislature’s congressional plan to take effect.

Looking through the bill introductions for the regular legislative session that starts March 14, some Louisiana lawmakers appear to be bracing for a veto: two of measures (H.B. 712 and S.B. 306) present ways to redraw the congressional districts and another proposes a constitutional amendment that would establish a redistricting commission to draw the maps next time.

Meanwhile, Florida lawmakers knew when they passed their redistricting plan that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) wants to be the one to decide the lines, even though that’s not his role in the process. He has said there’ll be a veto. — Jennifer Kay

READ MORE: Florida Lawmakers Ignore Threatened Congressional Remap Veto

ARKANSAS: LAWSUIT FILED
A federal lawsuit says Arkansas’ congressional map dilutes the voting power of Black residents in the Little Rock area.

Lawyers for six plaintiffs, including two state legislators, said the map unlawfully “cracked” predominantly Black parts of Pulaski County from the 2nd District of Rep. French Hill (R) into two other districts. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) allowed the map to become law without his signature while acknowledging concerns about how the map affected Black voters in Pulaski. – Greg Giroux

MISSOURI: SHOW-ME STANDOFF
With Missouri’s legislature about to go on spring break, will this be the week the Senate breaks a Republican-vs-Republican impasse over redistricting?

For weeks, some GOP senators have blocked a vote on a House-passed map that would favor their party in six of eight districts. Those senators are pushing for a map that would give their home county, fast-growing St. Charles County near St. Louis, its own congressional district. — Greg Giroux

NEW YORK: OUT OF TIME
A New York state Supreme Court justice said he’ll allow the 2022 election process to use the Republican-hampering congressional redistricting maps, at least this year. Meanwhile, a court case will continue to challenge both the new congressional and state Senate maps. The court will hear from redistricting experts on March 14. — Keshia Clukey

Election Law

ARIZONA: SIGNATURE FIX
A new Arizona law offers relief to 2022 hopefuls whose petition signature requirements were confused by redistricting.

The measure (H.B. 2839) clarifies that legislative and congressional candidates need the lesser of two thresholds to qualify for the ballot: the average number of signatures needed in 2020 for all districts for their political party or the signature requirements for the 2020 district with the same number as the district they’re running in this year.

The state Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey (R) passed the measure and signed it into law in a single day, which might have been too fast. Some Republican lawmakers already want to repeal a revision that affects how precinct committee officials are chosen. — Brenna Goth

FLORIDA: DON’T SAY ‘DROP BOX’
Florida lawmakers are proposing to change official nomenclature from ballot drop boxes to “secure ballot intake stations.”

It’s part of an election law update (S.B. 524) that could go to DeSantis this week. That bill also would create a state office dedicated to investigating election fraud, ban ranked-choice voting, and require elections supervisors to update their voter rolls every year. — Jennifer Kay

WISCONSIN: NO PROSECUTION
The Milwaukee County district attorney won’t file criminal charges alleging five of the six Wisconsin Elections Commission members committed elections fraud, allegations referred to the district attorney’s office by Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling.

“There is insufficient evidence to provide beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed,” according to a letter sent to Schmaling. Some Wisconsin Republicans have pointed to Schmaling’s accusations to back up unproven suspicions that former President Donald Trump shouldn’t have lost in 2020. — Stephen Joyce

NEVADA: BALLOT MEASURE BATTLE
Democrats want to halt Nevada ballot measure proposals that would ask voters to restrict mail-in voting and boost voter ID requirements.

Lawsuits filed in Carson City District Court argue that the ballot measure descriptions are misleading and incomplete and therefore the proposals are ineligible to proceed. Ballot measure backers face a June 29 deadline to submit 140,777 valid signatures for each proposal. — Brenna Goth

TEXAS: NEW LAWSUIT
Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria is facing a lawsuit by the county Republican Party over her management of the 2022 primary election.

The state-court complaint calls management of the primary “the worst election fiasco in Texas history,” partly because of long delays in releasing the official vote count and the disclosure that 10,000 mail-in votes weren’t added to the count right away.

Harris County is a Democratic Party stronghold with more than 4.7 million people in the Greater Houston area. — Janet Miranda

Caught Our Eye

  • New political maps in California are scrambling the fates of many politicians. — The New York Times
  • Michigan audit finds minimal “duplicate,” dead voters in 2020 presidential vote. — Bridge Michigan
  • A new group called The 65 Project is filing ethics complaints against Cleta Mitchell and other lawyers it describes as haveing “supported sabotaging legitimate election results.” — Roy Strom

Resources

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With assistance from Andrew Small

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