Place Your Bets on Alabama or New York: Ballots & Boundaries

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As we get closer to the promised release of official 2020 Census numbers, politicians in Alabama and New York have reason to sweat a bit.

The state population totals coming out by the end of this month will decide how the 435 seats in the House are divided among the states for the next decade, with faster-growing places gaining and the rest staying the same or losing.

Each state is guaranteed one district under the Constitution. An arcane formula that governs reapportionment creates a rank-ordered list of “priority values” that determine which states get House seats 51 through 435.

In an analysis by Election Data Services of April 2020 population estimates, New York’s 26th District was projected to be No. 435, just ahead of Alabama’s 7th District.

The suspense will be whether New York drops to 26 districts from its current 27, or whether Alabama will score just high enough to keep all of its representation and make New York a two-seat loser. READ MORE from Greg Giroux.

FLORIDA: LEAVE IT TO VOTERS?

Florida’s top-ranking Democrat doesn’t sound optimistic about how redistricting will turn out for her party.

“We don’t have the votes to stop a redistricting plan,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a Monday call with reporters and Florida House Democratic Caucus leaders. “If the Republican Legislature decides to completely gerrymander the districts, people will have the final say. And that is going to be at the voting booth, and that’s to vote them out of office.” — Jennifer Kay

MISSISSIPPI: COURT COULD KILL THE UNDEAD

A state that’s been content with “zombie” congressional districts is waiting for a state Supreme Court decision on whether there’s a penalty for inertia.

Mississippi justices are deliberating a requirement that ballot-issue signatures come equally from five districts. It’s in court because there are only four districts. READ MORE from Jennifer Kay.

Source: Mississippi Secretary of State
Current Mississippi congressional districts, left, and the map in place before 2001.

WISCONSIN and COLORADO: ADVISORY PANELS BEGINS WORK

The Wisconsin People’s Map Commission last week approved 8 to 0 a set of principles to use when redrawing the state’s maps. The must-haves include compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act’s one-person-one-vote requirement, contiguity of districts, compactness, and respect for existing municipal boundaries.

The commission was appointed by Gov. Tony Evers (D), who urged state lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve commission-drawn maps untouched.

Colorado’s new Bipartisan Election Advisory Commission got to work on April 16, preparing to make recommendations for best practices, administrative rules, and legislation. The group also is discussing census/redistricting challenges. — Stephen Joyce and Tripp Baltz

TEXAS: ELECTIONS PAPER TRAIL

The Texas Senate approved a measure (S.B. 1234) that would require creating a paper record for every cast ballot and a bill (S.B. 598) to establish a system for auditing ballots in future elections. Lawmakers referred both to the state House Elections committee last week.

Meanwhile, a package of expansive changes to voting laws (S.B. 7) that earlier passed along party lines was referred to the state House Elections committee. The changes would curb voting hours, ban drive-through voting, and prevent counties from sending unsolicited ballot-by-mail applications. — Paul Stinson

See also: The next big voting rights fight is in Texas (Vox)

ARIZONA: CARDINALS, WHO?

A letter signed by CEOs and executives, including the owner of the Arizona Cardinals, doesn’t seem to have swayed opinions among Republican lawmakers in Phoenix. State senators held a news conference Monday to decry the characterization of proposed voter identification requirements and changes to the early voting list (S.B. 1485 and S.B. 1713) as voter suppression.

“They’re not influential with the public,” state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R) said of the business leaders. — Brenna Goth

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Ballots & Boundaries is your weekly check-in on what states are doing to change voting laws and reconfigure political boundaries in once-a-decade redistricting.

To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bgov.com; Jennifer Kay in Miami at jkay@bloomberglaw.com; Tripp Baltz in Denver at abaltz@bloomberglaw.com; Brenna Goth in Phoenix at bgoth@bloomberglaw.com; Stephen Joyce in Chicago at sjoyce@bloomberglaw.com; Paul Stinson in Austin, Texas at pstinson@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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