Time Crunch Pays Off for Georgia Majority: Ballots & Boundaries

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If Republicans take control of the U.S. House of Representatives after this fall’s election, the party may partially have the slow roll of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to thank.

The GOP-dominated legislature passed the new congressional map on Nov. 22, and Kemp (R) signed it into law on Dec. 30. We may never know if that delay made a difference, but a federal judge has decided that while challengers “are likely to ultimately prove that certain aspects of the State’s redistricting plans are unlawful,” time’s now too short and that map will be used for this cycle.

Even if the map configuration is later struck down, using it this November could have an impact on control of the U.S. House.

Court Allows Georgia’s GOP-Drawn Congressional Map for 2022

Republicans will take over if they achieve a net gain of five seats, putting them in a better position to block the initiatives of President Joe Biden and potentially determine the outcome of any challenges to the next presidential election results. — Chris Marr

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WISCONSIN: ECHOING TRUMP
The retired justice hired by Wisconsin Republicans to examine the 2020 presidential election came out today with a report embracing one of Donald Trump’s debunked claims: that results can be retroactively decertified.

Michael Gableman also contends that get-out-the-vote grants from a group funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg violated bribery laws. “I believe the legislature ought to take a very hard look at the option of decertification of the 2020 Wisconsin presidential election,” Gableman told the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections.

He additionally argues that state law was violated when the staff at nursing homes helped residents fill out ballots, and he showed video of voters in those care homes who appeared to be at least partially incapacitated.

To date, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) has allocated more than $650,000 to Gableman’s review.

Wisconsin law doesn’t allow an election to be decertified, Stafford Rosenbaum partner Jeffrey Mandell, an elections specialist, confirmed in an email. — Stephen Joyce

OHIO: TRYING AGAIN
After a slow restart and contempt-of-court threat, the Ohio Redistricting Commission will try again this afternoon to craft a congressional map that passes constitutional muster.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose says two primaries may be necessary, one for statewide and local offices and another for U.S. House and state legislative offices affected by redistricting because of time needed to print ballots and program voting machines for the scheduled May 3 primary.

The Ohio Supreme Court struck down the commission’s first maps, saying they violated voter-approved anti-gerrymandering requirements in the Ohio Constitution. Republicans have a new proposal ready for today’s meeting, the Columbus Dispatch reports. — Kenneth P. Doyle

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TEXAS: PRIMARY DAY
Texas today is holding the kickoff congressional primary of the 2022 midterm election and the first elections under new district lines.

The 38 Texas districts, which are being challenged by the U.S. Justice Department, are with rare exception so safely Republican or Democratic that today’s balloting or any needed runoffs on May 24 will be the decisive elections. Click here for a preview of House primaries to watch. — Greg Giroux

FLORIDA: TWO IN PLAY
The Florida House redistricting committee has given in to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Two versions of congressional redistricting are headed to the state House floor this week. One of them would shrink what has a been a sprawling majority-Black district to just Duval County. The other, being called a “secondary” plan, would keep the current 5th Congressional District in place if a state or federal court invalidates the first map.

DeSantis (R) submitted two maps to lawmakers in an unprecedented move for a Florida governor. He wants to ax the district represented by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (D). The Florida Senate already approved a map that would retain Lawson’s district, which stretches from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. — Jennifer Kay

FLORIDA: IMPERFECTION
“There is no such thing as a perfect election,” attorneys for the state of Florida are arguing in a post-trial brief.

The brief argues that the state is obliged to refine its voting laws, and nothing in last year’s statute (S.B. 90) justifies challenges to Florida’s “prerogative to set the time, place, and manner of its elections,” they said.

Advocacy groups who sued the state over the law’s restrictions on voting by mail and third-party voter registration groups filed hundreds of pages of post-trial briefs for Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, arguing there’s no evidence of significant voter fraud in Florida that would support changes imposed by the law. — Jennifer Kay

Tally: 38 Completed

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

ARIZONA: VOTING CHALLENGED
The Arizona Republican Party wants a court to end no-excuse early voting, arguing the system used to cast 89% of ballots in 2020 violates the state constitution.

The party is asking the Arizona Supreme Court to find mail-in voting unlawful, according to court filings, or at least overturn the no-excuse portion implemented in 1991. The court’s also being asked to declare drop boxes unconstitutional and prevent counting ballots before Election Day. — Brenna Goth

ARIZONA: SIGNATURE DISRUPTIONS
An Arizona court said it’s premature to weigh in on a dispute between Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) over the online system candidates use to collect signatures to get on the ballot.

Hobbs said the platform needs to go offline to get the system set up with post-redistricting maps. Brnovich’s office says that would break state law.

Hobbs asked the Maricopa County Superior Court to affirm that her plan’s legal and to shield her from prosecution. Her request for a preliminary injunction was denied, and Hobbs said in a statement that she still plans to take the system offline on March 11. — Brenna Goth

NORTH CAROLINA, PENNSYLVANIA: HIGH COURT APPEALS:
Lawyers for the North Carolina General Assembly and two Pennsylvania congressional candidates have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block their states’ new congressional maps.

The appeal by North Carolina State House Speaker Tim Moore (R) came after state courts rejected two Republican-drawn congressional maps. Pennsylvania Republicans also want the U.S. Supreme Court to require statewide at-large elections until lawmakers enact a new redistricting plan.

“The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is constitutionally forbidden to ‘modify’ a congressional primary calendar that the legislature has prescribed, and it cannot remedy the legislature’s failure to enact a new congressional map by disrupting the election process rather than ordering at-large elections,” their attorneys said in a motion filed Monday. — Maeve Allsup and Jennifer Kay

WHITE HOUSE: ASK THE DNC
Now that broad voting legislation has stalled on Capitol Hill, it’s the Democratic National Committee’s turn to help Americans figure their way through new election laws, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Her comments marked an addition to previous White House statements on access to the ballot in the mid-term election.

Biden (D) has focused on broader voting legislation, though that’s stalled in Congress. The U.S. Department of Justice is suing to block a redistricting plan for congressional seats in Texas, alleging it was crafted to intentionally diminish the power of Black and Latino voters. — Courtney Rozen

Caught Our Eye

  • “If there’s a bad apple somewhere, we’ll replace them immediately.” — State Sen. Gruters, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, after the Miami Herald documented 141 instances in which mostly elderly voters said they didn’t agree to change parties when they signed forms presented by door-to-door canvassers working for the state GOP.
  • The novel challenge seeking to block U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) from running for re-election is over at least for now because of redistricting, according to a state election board ruling.

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With assistance from Andrew Small

To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Marr in Atlanta at cmarr@bloomberglaw.com; Kenneth P. Doyle in Washington at kdoyle@bgov.com; Jennifer Kay in Miami at jkay@bloomberglaw.com; Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bgov.com; Brenna Goth in Phoenix at bgoth@bloomberglaw.com; Courtney Rozen in Washington at crozen@bgov.com; Maeve Allsup in San Francisco at mallsup@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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