State Legislative Tracker: Redistricting controversies in two states

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July 21, 2014

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look at the issues surrounding redistricting in Florida and Texas.

Weekly highlight

Last week, no state adjourned its legislative session. Ten states remain in session. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • Florida: As the Tracker reported last week, the Florida State Legislature has been ordered by a federal judge to redraw the congressional map it was tasked with creating following the 2010 census due to the unconstitutionality of two districts, which were deemed to have been drawn to benefit Republicans. The timeline to complete the changes before the 2014 elections, however, remains in question. On Thursday, circuit judge Terry Lewis briefly heard from lawyers representing the legislature, Secretary of State and state election authorities; they informed him that voting had already begun ahead of the August 26 primary by means of absentee ballots, some of which were already returned by the day of the meeting. Ron Labasky, attorney for all but one of the state's election supervisors, expressed doubt over the feasibility of redrawing this year, telling the judge, "I'm not sure how we back up and allow someone to vote again in a new district."[1] David King, representing petitioners including the League of Women Voters, urged the legislature to work on a new map immediately, noting that the 2012 elections had been carried out with an unconstitutional map.[2] After 20 minutes, Lewis scheduled a longer hearing for Thursday, admitting that he had expected an appeal. Last Tuesday, legislative leaders filed a motion conceding the matter, but requested that redistricting occur after the elections.[3] Gerrymandering, or drawing district boundaries for party advantage, was outlawed by voters in 2010. While only two districts were deemed unconstitutional, new boundaries could affect several others when redrawn.[4]
  • Texas: The Texas State Legislature is being sued for unconstitutional redistricting of the state house districts following the 2010 census.[5] The U.S. Department of Justice argued on July 14 that the redistricting of the state's legislative districts "discriminated against Hispanic voters and tried to protect Republican incumbents."[6] The redistricting, conducted by the state legislature and a Legislative Redistricting Board, is required to draw the districts in such a manner that they have near equal population and "neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or language group."[7][6] In 2013, Texas was one of fifteen states with a history of voting discrimination that was deemed by the high court as no longer needing approval from Washington under the Voting Rights Act to change election laws.[8][9] The Justice Department argues that Texas should still be required to obtain federal approval. Attorney for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, Bryan Sells, said that Texas has "adopted maps that discriminated against its citizens" since 1970.[9] Patrick Sweeten, an Assistant Texas Attorney General, said, "No one in the Texas Legislature discriminated on the basis of race."[9] If the Texas Legislature is proven to be guilty of discrimination, it could have to be approved for election or voting law changes by the U.S. Attorney General or federal judges.[6] A map of the state house districts for the 83rd Legislature can be found on the Texas Legislative Council website (timed out).
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Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of July 21, 2014
See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2014 session information.

Currently 3 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state, Ohio, is in Skeleton Session. Skeleton Session typically includes very short nonvoting sessions instead of regular sessions with a full chamber.[15]

The following states have adjourned their 2014 regular session:[16]

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, December 22, 2014
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,327 (45.1%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,951 (53.5%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 30
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 68
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 1
2014 Session Information
Total Special Elections 39
Total Special Sessions 7

In recess

As of today, July 21, there are six state legislatures currently in recess:[17]

See also: State legislative elections, 2014

A total of 87 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 4, 2014.

The 87 chambers with elections in 2014 are in 46 states. They are:

The Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico and South Carolina senates also typically hold elections in even years. However, senators are elected to 4-year terms in those states and those will not be up for election again until 2016.

1,097 of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2014, and 4,958 of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 6,055 of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats are up for re-election on November 4, 2014.

Primary Information

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2014 state legislative elections

The state legislative filing deadlines and primary dates are as follows:

Note: Ballot access is a complicated issue. The dates in the table below are primarily for candidates filing for access to the primary. For more detailed information about each state's qualification requirements -- including all relevant ballot access dates for the primary and general election -- click to our detailed pages in the state column.

2014 State Legislative Primary Information
State Filing Deadline Primary Date Days from Deadline to Primary
Alabama Red padlock.png 2/7/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 116
Alaska Red padlock.png 6/2/2014[18] Red padlock.png 8/19/2014 78
Arizona Red padlock.png 5/28/2014[19] Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 90
Arkansas Red padlock.png 3/3/2014[20][21] Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 78
California Red padlock.png 3/7/2014[22][23][24] Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 88
Colorado Red padlock.png 3/31/2014[25][26] Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 85
Connecticut Red padlock.png 6/10/2014[27] Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 90
Delaware Red padlock.png 7/8/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 63
Florida Red padlock.png 6/20/2014[28][29] Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 67
Georgia Red padlock.png 3/7/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 74
Hawaii Red padlock.png 6/3/2014[30] Red padlock.png 8/9/2014 67
Idaho Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 78
Illinois Red padlock.png 12/2/2013 Red padlock.png 3/18/2014 106
Indiana Red padlock.png 2/7/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 88
Iowa Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 81
Kansas Red padlock.png 6/2/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 65
Kentucky Red padlock.png 1/28/2014[31][32] Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 112
Maine Red padlock.png 3/17/2014[33] Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 85
Maryland Red padlock.png 2/25/2014[34] Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 119
Massachusetts Red padlock.png 6/3/2014[35] Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 98
Michigan Red padlock.png 4/22/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 105
Minnesota Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 70
Missouri Red padlock.png 3/25/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 133
Montana Red padlock.png 3/10/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 85
Nebraska Red padlock.png 3/3/2014[36] Red padlock.png 5/13/2014 85
Nevada Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 88
New Hampshire Red padlock.png 6/13/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 88
New Mexico Red padlock.png 2/4/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 119
New York Red padlock.png 7/10/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 61
North Carolina Red padlock.png 2/28/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 67
North Dakota Red padlock.png 4/7/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 64
Ohio Red padlock.png 2/5/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 90
Oklahoma Red padlock.png 4/11/2014 Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 74
Oregon Red padlock.png 3/11/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 70
Pennsylvania Red padlock.png 3/11/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 70
Rhode Island Red padlock.png 6/25/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 76
South Carolina Red padlock.png 3/30/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 72
South Dakota Red padlock.png 3/25/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 70
Tennessee Red padlock.png 4/3/2014 Red padlock.png 8/7/2014 126
Texas Red padlock.png 12/9/2013 Red padlock.png 3/4/2014 85
Utah Red padlock.png 3/20/2014 Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 96
Vermont Red padlock.png 6/12/2014 Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 75
Washington Red padlock.png 5/17/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 80
West Virginia Red padlock.png 1/25/2014 Red padlock.png 5/13/2014 108
Wisconsin Red padlock.png 6/2/2014 Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 71
Wyoming Red padlock.png 5/30/2014 Red padlock.png 8/19/2014 81


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See also: State legislative special elections, 2014

There is one special election scheduled this week in Connecticut.

Connecticut House of Representatives District 122

See also: Connecticut state legislative special elections, 2014

Ben McGorty (R) defeated Arlene Liscinsky (D) in the special election.[37][38]

The seat was vacant following Lawrence Miller's (R) death.[37]

A special election for the position of Connecticut House of Representatives District 122 has been called for July 22. Candidates were nominated by their party rather than chosen through a primary.[37]

Connecticut House of Representatives, District 122, Special Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBen McGorty 75.3% 1,403
     Democratic Arlene Liscinsky 24.7% 459
Total Votes 1,862

Note: Results provided here are unofficial returns.[39]

July 22 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Arlene Liscinsky
Republican Party Ben McGorty

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • August 5: Texas State Senate District 4 (Runoff)
  • August 19: Virginia State Senate District 38
  • August 19: Virginia House of Delegates District 48
  • August 19: Virginia House of Delegates District 90
  • November 4: Louisiana House of Representatives District 97

See also

References

  1. Associated Press, "Florida Legislature asks judge to delay new map," July 17, 2014
  2. Reuters, "Judge mulls timetable for redrawing Florida redistricting maps," July 17, 2014
  3. Miami Herald, "Legislature agrees to redraw invalid congressional districts — for 2016," July 15, 2014
  4. News Service of Florida, "Lawyers ask judge to delay new congressional map," July 18, 2014
  5. Amarillo Globe-News, "Multiple plaintiffs sue state Legislature," July 13, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 The Washington Post, "Texas' legislative districts accused of discriminating against Hispanics and protecting Republicans," July 15, 2014
  7. Texas Legislative Council, "Basic Requirements," accessed July 18, 2014
  8. KTRH, "DOJ: Texas Election Changes Need Pre-Approval," July 15, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Statesman, "Feds: Texas voting maps deliberately discriminated," July 14, 2014
  10. Wisconsin State Journal, "Scott Walker calls on Legislature to repeal Common Core in January," accessed July 18, 2014
  11. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Senators Farrow, Vukmir echo Cedarburg vote to delay new tests," accessed July 18, 2014
  12. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Cedarburg School Board votes to seek postponement of Common Core exams," accessed July 18, 2014
  13. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Scott Walker staff drafted bill aimed at Common Core State Standards," accessed July 18, 2014
  14. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Gov. Scott Walker calls for Legislature to repeal Common Core standards," accessed July 18, 2014
  15. Cleveland.com, "Ohio's 2014 legislative calendar will be crammed with election-year politicking and backroom pleading: Thomas Suddes," December 15, 2013
  16. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2014," accessed July 21, 2014
  17. StateNet, " Daily Session Summary," accessed July 21, 2014
  18. Alaska Statutes, "Section 15.25, Nomination of Candidates," accessed October 31, 2013
  19. Secretary of State Website, "2014 Election Important Dates," accessed November 4, 2013
  20. Running for Public Office, "A 'Plain English' Handbook for Candidates," 2012 Edition, accessed October 21, 2013 (dead link)
  21. Arkansas Code of 1987, "Title 7, Elections," accessed October 30, 2013
  22. Summary of Qualifications and Requirements for the Office of State Senator, Member of the Assembly, "June 3, 2014, Primary Election," accessed October 21, 2013
  23. California Elections Code, "Section 8100-8107," accessed October 28, 2013
  24. California Secretary of State Website, "Key Dates and Deadlines," accessed October 21, 2013
  25. Colorado Secretary of State Website, "Major Political Parties FAQs," accessed October 31, 2013
  26. Colorado Revised Statutes, "Title 1, Elections," accessed October 31, 2013
  27. Connecticut Secretary of State Website, "Frequently Asked Questions, Nominating Papers," accessed October 31, 2013
  28. Florida Department of State Division of Elections, "2013-2014 Dates to Remember," accessed November 6, 2013
  29. 2013 Florida Statutes, "Section 99.061," accessed December 2, 2014
  30. Hawaii State Legislature, "HRS §12-6 Nomination papers: time for filing; fees", accessed May 22, 2013
  31. 2014 Kentucky Election Calendar, accessed November 12, 2013
  32. Kentucky State Board of Elections "Candidate Qualifications and Filing Fees" accessed November 26, 2011
  33. Maine Secretary of State "State of Maine 2014 Candidate's Guide to Ballot Access," accessed February 11, 2014
  34. The State Board of Elections, "Candidacy," accessed November 5, 2013
  35. 2014 Massachusetts State Primary and State Election Schedule, accessed December 2, 2013
  36. Official Election Calendar for the State of Nebraska, accessed November 18, 2014
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 Connecticut Post, "Slate set for special state House election," June 15, 2014
  38. CTPost.com, "McGorty wins 122nd District seat," July 22, 2014
  39. Shelton Herald, "UPDATED: State rep special election results by polling place," July 23, 2014