Redistricting Roundup: Another week, another special session leads to a completed map

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October 21, 2011

Edited by Tyler Millhouse

Other states featured in this week's Roundup

On Monday, Utah's House and Senate Republicans reached a compromise on the state's congressional redistricting plan. The approved map, passed 50-19 in the House and 20-5 in the Senate, is a modified version of the plan previously passed by the Joint Redistricting Committee and the State Senate.

The modified version was prepared by the House after its earlier proposal (very loosely based on a citizen-drawn map) was rejected by the Senate and sharply criticized by its original author. The final version, however, has not satisfied opponents who charge that legislators deliberately targeted US Rep. Jim Matheson (D) for elimination. Matheson's districts is now 60%-65% Republican. GOP estimates suggest that Matheson's new District 2 contains only 31% of its existing voters. Opponents worry that the new lines will make it possible for the GOP to capture all four of Utah's U.S. House seats.

Both Democrats and Republicans threatened lawsuits during the process. Republicans threatened to sue if a safe Democratic seat was created, but none was created. Democrats, on the other hand, plan to go forward with their lawsuit, arguing that the new map is unfair and gerrymandered.

Despite the impasse over congressional redistricting, lawmakers did manage to pass the committee's legislative redistricting plans (with modifications) prior to the recess. Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) signed the legislative maps on Wednesday and the congressional maps on Thursday.

  • The approved congressional map can be found here.
  • The joint committee's congressional map can be found here.

State news

Arizona

Both Democrats and Republicans continue to express their disapproval of the legislative draft map. This week the state legislature announced it is forming a special committee to make recommendations to the Arizona Independent Redistricting commission. The bipartisan legislative committee is meeting today for the first time. While the six-member committee includes two Democrats and four Republicans, legislative Democrats are boycotting the new meeting. House Minority Leader Chad Campbell and Senate Minority Leader David Schapira said the committee is simply a scheme to protect incumbents' seats and undermine the Independent Commission.

Quote of the Week
"Only God could make one that would make everybody happy. And I'm not God.”[1]

-- Idaho Redistricting Commission member Dolores Crow on the passage of a new Congressional map.

California

With less than a month to go before the signature deadline, the referendum to withdraw the new state Senate map received a $400,000 donation from the California Republican Party this week. The organization leading the effort says it has already obtained more than 400,000 signatures. At least 504,760 valid signatures must be turned in by November 14 in order to qualify the measure as a veto referendum for the 2012 ballot.

Florida

On October 20, Rep. Luis Garcia (D) sent a letter to legislative leaders, demanding that Senator and redistricting committee member Alan Hays (R) apologize for his remarks on Hispanic districts in Central Florida. In addition, Rep. Janet Cruz (D) issued a similar letter calling for Hays' resignation. Hays came under fire after suggesting that any proposed Hispanic district ought to be vetted to ensure that its population is not inflated due to illegal immigrants. Opponents are concerned that this approach will be used to disenfranchise Hispanic residents in Central Florida, most of which, argues Garcia, are natural-born US citizens of Puerto Rican descent. Census figures typically undercount illegal immigrants since many refuse to fill out census forms.

Earlier in the week, the Senate Reapportionment Committee decided that minority districts are a top priority of the new redistricting amendments -- even above the laws' anti-gerrymandering rules. The committee plans to draw minority maps first, drawing the remaining districts accordingly. It remains to be seen whether the GOP-dominated committee will use this approach to pack Democratic voters in urban areas.

This week, lawmakers also reviewed public suggestions for the state's northeast. Both of the suggestions for the region pair incumbents and exemplify the difficulty lawmakers face in redistricting the region.

Hawaii

On October 13, attorney Mike Matsukawa of Kona filed a lawsuit challenging Hawaii's redistricting plans. Unlike the first lawsuit which centers on the fact that non-residents were included, Matsukawa argues that the Reapportionment Commission did not try in "good faith" to exclude non-residents. He contends that the commission's eleventh-hour decision to exclude some non-residents was partially responsible for its inability to exclude them all. Matsukawa suggests that the late decision did not allow enough time to determine the actual feasibility of separating out non-residents.

  • A copy of the petition can be found here.

Idaho

Successfully adopting new legislative and congressional districts, the second Idaho redistricting commission completed in less than one month what the first commission could not complete in 92 days. Last Friday, the commission unanimously adopted a plan for new legislative districts. The plan has 11 county splits, something that has been a point of contention throughout this year's redistricting process. However, Republican Commissioner Dolores Crow said they were necessary in order to preserve communities of interest. The new map puts a number of incumbents into the same districts, forcing them to run against one another. Seven of the 35 districts include more than two House incumbents, who will have to battle for the district's two seats.

On Monday the commission voted 4-2 to adopt a new congressional map. Democrat Ron Beitelspacher crossed the aisle to vote with the three Republicans but acknowledged the map wasn't his first choice. Under the new map, Idaho's two congressional districts once again split Ada County, home to Boise. Democrats were pushing to include all of the county in the first congressional district, but Republicans would not go along with that plan. Secretary of State Ben Ysursa announced on October 18 that the new districts are the law of the land and immediately go into effect.

Illinois

Redistricting Facts
Total States with Lawsuits filed: 28
Next state deadline? South Dakota
October 24, 2011
Maps submitted for vote: 88 out of 142 (62.0%)** AK (2), AL (1), AR (3), AZ (3), CA (3), CO (2), DE (2), GA (3), HI (3), IA (3), ID (3), IL (3), IN (3), LA (3), MD (1) ME (1), MI (3), MN (3), MO (1), MS (2), NC (3), NE (2), NJ (2), NM (3), NV (3), OH (3), OK (3), OR (3), SC (3), TX (3), UT (3) VA (3), WI (3), WV (3)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 20 (AR, LA, IA, MO, IN, NE, NC, OK, AL, IL, TX, OR, SC, MI, WI, CA, GA, WV, ME, HI, UT, MD, ID)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 18 (AK, IL, IN, IA, LA, NE, NJ, NC, OK, OR, TX, VA, AR, WI, CA, GA, WV, HI, UT, ID)
**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)

A court case brought by Illinois Republicans over the new Congressional districts continued to develop this week. The case, filed in July, argues that the new district lines violate Hispanic voting rights and are severely gerrymandered. Last month, plaintiffs asked a federal court to force the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to produce documents requested in a subpoena in an attempt to discover what role the national Democratic Party played in drawing the new district lines.

An order issued by a three-judge federal court panel last week allows Republicans to find out the identities of experts and consultants used by the Democrats. The panel also ruled that lawmakers and their staff were immune from providing documents that were not based on objective facts.

Kansas

Insight Kansas, a political science blog, is sponsoring a redistricting competition. The winning maps will be submitted to the legislative redistricting committees. Details can be found here.

Maryland

While the last few weeks were filled with contention over Governor Martin O'Malley's proposed congressional districts, the maps easily sailed through both chambers and are now law. Maryland held a special session this week to address congressional redistricting, taking up the governor's proposal as well as several others. Alternatives came from both sides of the aisle - Republicans saw the governor's map as severely gerrymandered while some Democrats were angry over the redistribution of black voters.

In the end, the governor's map passed the Senate by a vote of 33-13 and the House 91-46. Republicans in both chambers unanimously voted against it, while one Senate Democrat and five house Democrats voted against it. Gov. O'Malley signed the districts into law on October 20. Less than 24 hours later, the Fannie Lou Hamer Political Action Committee, along with Republicans, called on the Justice Department to investigate the maps for possible racial gerrymandering.

Massachusetts

State legislative maps were released this week by the state's redistricting committee. The new maps would increase the number of majority-minority districts in the State Senate from two to three and from 10 to 20 in the State House. A number of small changes are made to existing districts with precincts shifting among districts. Two freshmen Democrats and two freshmen Republicans were put into districts that would have created likely primaries between incumbents. Paul Mark (D) and Gailanne Cariddi (D) were placed in one district while Jim Lyons (R) and Paul Adams (R) would be placed into the 18th Essex District. However, Adams and Mark said they intend to move before the November 6 residency deadline in order to qualify for incumbent-free districts in Berkshire and Essex counties. In Massachusetts, candidates must reside in their House district for at least one year prior to the election day, which means the new maps must be finalized before Nov. 6, 2011 in order to allow some candidates to move if they choose to.

  • See the proposed maps here.

Meanwhile, legislators are expected to release the draft Congressional map sometime next week or soon thereafter. The Congressional map is seen as more controversial because it must cut from 10 to 9 the number of U.S. House districts.

Nevada

This week the three-member panel of special master's tasked with redrawing the districts in Nevada released draft maps. A hearing is scheduled for October 27 for Judge James Todd Russell to review the maps.

Most notably, the Congressional proposal draws the new 4th District in urban Las Vegas. That district would be 42.7 percent Hispanic. An analysis by Roll Cal said the new map would likely result in either a 2-2 split or 3-1 Democratic favor in the Congressional races.

 Special Masters Redistricting Proposals 

New Mexico

The retired judge handling the redistricting lawsuits in New Mexico -- James Hall -- has set the timeline for court hearings about the four disputed maps (Congressional, State Senate, State House, and Public Regulation Commission). The dates are:

  • December 5-8: Congressional map
  • December 12-15 and December 19-21: State House map
  • January 3-6 and January 9-10: State Senate map
  • January 11-13: Public Regulation Commission map

Ohio

On October 14, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision allowing the referendum against Ohio's congressional redistricting maps to proceed. Despite the GOP's 6-1 advantage on the court, defenders of the Republican-drawn congressional map could not sway the justices. The Ohio Constitution prohibits referendums against "appropriations for the current expenses of the state government." However, the court found that the redistricting legislation's $2.75 million appropriation, designated for local election officials to implement the new map, does not fund current expenses and, thus, does not exempt the bill from referendum. If the referendum gathers enough signatures, the new redistricting plan will be suspended until voters weigh in. This would create significant confusion as courts and lawmakers struggle to choose a new plan as the elections approach.

Lawmakers could pass another plan, this time as an emergency measure. This would exempt the new plan from referendum but require a two-thirds supermajority. Ohio Republicans are reportedly reaching out to African-American Democrats to achieve this majority. Some members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus crossed over to support the maps originally, but still more would be needed to reach a supermajority. Meanwhile, the Ohio Democratic Party is using the threat of a referendum to pressure the GOP to make concessions in exchange for Democratic support of a redrawn map.

Ohio lawmakers are now expected to delay the presidential and congressional primaries in order to allow time for resolving congressional redistricting.

  • The court's opinion in State ex rel Ohioans for Fair Districts v Husted can be found here.

South Dakota

This Week's Redistricting Highlight
A citizens' redistricting commission sponsored by Draw the Line Minnesota has submitted its proposed Minnesota redistricting maps to the judicial redistricting panel. The plans draw over 20% of the state's legislative incumbents outside their existing districts. A total of 84 incumbents would be forced into primary battles with other incumbents unless they move. Two US Representatives would be paired. Notably, the plan displaces all of the state's majority and minority leaders. Another group, OneMN.org, is proposing redistricting principles that protect minority voters.

A special session kicks off on Monday to redraw the 35 state legislative districts. The likely most contentious battle surrounds Aberdeen, where a committee-approved map drawn by Republicans would place 5 Democratic incumbents in one districts that elects 3 legislators.

Texas

Tuesday was the deadline for participants to submit interim map proposals in Texas' consolidated redistricting case being heard in a San Antonio federal court. Among those who submitted proposals were: State Representatives Marc Veasey and Harold Dutton, Jr., State Senator Wendy Davis, Congressmen Cuellar and Canseco, multiple Hispanic advocacy groups, the NAACP and African-American members of Congress, Travis County plaintiffs, and the State of Texas. One particular proposal put forth by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus could potentially end the already heated primary battle between US Representative Lloyd Doggett and State Representative Joaquin Castro by splitting the contested district into two - one centered around San Antonio and one around Austin. Objections to the proposals must be submitted to the court by Monday.

West Virginia

County election officials in West Virginia are in a bind as the state's redistricting plans face legal challenges. With one lawsuit filed and several more expected, the state's House of Delegates districts, and possibly its congressional districts, are open to court-mandated revisions. State officials do not plan to dictate how and when county election officials implement the new plans, but either option (waiting for possible changes or acting immediately and changing as needed) could create confusion among voters. In addition, making changes twice could cost counties significant amounts of money.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin, which was dominated by nine recall elections for most of this year, looks to be headed for another round of recalls in 2012. The question, however, is which districts would the recalls take place in - the new districts passed in August or the old districts the incumbents were elected under? According to a memo this week by Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy, senators would have to face recall elections in their existing districts. The six-member board will consider Kennedy's opinion on November 9 and decide whether they agree with it or not.

Republicans, who hold the governorship along with a majority in the Assembly and Senate, controlled the redistricting process this year, drawing districts favorable to their interests. Because of this, it would be to their benefit to hold recalls in the new districts, which could lead to a legal battle. A total of 17 of Wisconsin's 33 incumbent state senators, 6 Democrats and 11 Republicans, are eligible for recall in 2012. Democrats have already announced plans to launch a recall campaign against Gov. Scott Walker on November 15 of this year.

See also