Redistricting Roundup: Reaction continues to proposed North Carolina maps
Edited by Geoff Pallay
On July 1, the North Carolina General Assembly released a proposed map of the state's 13 Congressional seats. The Republican-drafted plan redraws the state's legislative districts to conform with 2010 Census data.
Overall, the plan is expected to net the GOP between three and four Congressional seats in the 2012 general election. Specifically, the plan significantly weakens Democratic U.S. House Representatives Brad Miller (District 13), Heath Shuler (District 11), and Larry Kissell (District 8). Rep. Mike McIntyre's (D) District 7 seat was also weakened under the new map. Executive director of the State Democratic Party Jay Parmley called the proposal "Republican greed." In addition, the NAACP and other opponents argue that the new Voting Rights Act districts unfairly pack black and Democratic voters in order to weaken their representation. The NAACP has since threatened a lawsuit, calling the plan "regressive" and "shameful." Rep. McIntyre called the plan "disappointing."
In a joint statement, Republican redistricting leaders Sen. Bob Rucho and Rep. David Lewis contend that the plan "fully complies with applicable federal and state law" and "will establish Congressional districts that are fair to North Carolina voters."
Meanwhile, rumors are circulating that Rep. Shuler might accept a position as Athletic Director at the University of Tennessee rather than seek re-election. Shuler is a former NFL quarterback and star at the University of Tennessee.
|North Carolina GOP Congressional Redistricting Proposal|
The recently completed redistricting process in Alaska appears headed for legal challenge.
- On June 24, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly voted 8-1 to sue the state over its new redistricting maps. The community argues that the map dilutes Fairbanks voters by placing a significant portion of northwest Fairbanks in an expansive state house district which includes communities along the Bearing Sea coastline. In addition, the Borough Assembly argued that some of the city's voters had been unnecessarily split into two house districts. The Alaska Constitution requires that, "Each house district shall be formed of contiguous and compact territory containing as nearly as practicable a relatively integrated socio-economic area." The Assembly's resolution can be found here.
- The Aleutians East Borough is also considering litigation against the state over the new legislative redistricting plan. As it stands, plan splits the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians Islands into different house districts. A similar move was ruled unconstitutional by the Alaska Supreme Court in 1992. The community argues that the region shares social and economic ties and should not be divided.
- After a unanimous vote by the Borough Assembly in favor of challenging the state's redistricting plan, the Mat-Su mayor has vetoed the resolution. The Assembly attempted to override the veto, but could not get the required supermajority. In passing the original resolution, the Assembly was primarily motivated by the wide-ranging House District 6 which includes Fishhook, Sutton-Chickaloon, and Delta Junction.
|Quote of the Week|
"This General Assembly is engaged in an unseemly effort to segregate African Americans and submerge our influence into two Congressional districts, and this being done for the sole purpose of creating ten districts in which Republicans can elect their members. It is a shameful, wrong, regressive act. It a perversion of the Voting Rights Act of 1956, and we will meet you in court."
Citizens continue to wait for new draft maps to be released on July 14 by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Meanwhile, a peculiar scenario involving the 2012 state senate elections has recently been in the news.
There is the possibility that some voters will be re-located either from an odd district to an even district, or vice versa. But even more specifically, there is the possibility that a senator elected in 2010 could run in 2012 in an even-numbered district. Should that happen, then the odd-district will be represented by a "custodian" -- selected by the Rules Committee.
Meanwhile, if a senator in an odd-district (elected in 2008) is moved into an even-district, then the voters of that district will have two senators -- the new senator, and the old one elected in 2010. For example:
- If Alex Padilla of District 20 is moved into the 21st District, then he will continue to serve until 2014 as he was elected to a 4-year term. Voters of the new 21st District will still elect a new senator in the fall of 2012. Voters of the new District 20 will be served by the "custodian" -- likely to be a neighboring senator.
The implementation of new maps in August will be only the beginning of the chaos in California.
Republican redistricting leaders in the House and Senate have recently forsworn meetings with Congressional lobbyists and have ordered the residences of US Representatives to be excluded from draft maps. The decisions appear to be related to the recently approved "Fair Districts" amendments which prohibit partisanship and incumbent protection. Several US Reps have also decided to forgo hiring redistricting lobbyists for the same reason. If lawmakers make good on their promises, several incumbents could be displaced under the state's new maps.
|Total States with Lawsuits filed: 19|
|Next state deadline?|| South Carolina|
August 1, 2011
|Maps submitted for vote: 48 out of 142 (33.8%)**||MS (2), LA (3), AR (1), VA (3), IA (3), NJ (2), MO (1), IN (3), OK (3), TX (3), MN (3), NV (3), NE (2), AL (1), IL (3), OR (3), SC (3), AK (2), MI (3), DE (2)|
|States that have completed Congressional Maps||8 (AR, LA, IA, IN, NE, OK, AL, IL )|
|States that have completed State Legislative Maps||10 (NJ, LA, IA, VA, IN, NE, OK, IL, OR, AK)|
|**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)|
On June 28, the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission voted 8-1 to include non-resident students and military personnel in redistricting calculations. In addition, the Commission will also include sentenced felons in these calculations. The change in policy from previous decades is expected to benefit Oahu and prevent it from losing a senate seat. The sole "no" vote on the Commission came from Anthony Takitani, the only member who is not a resident of Oahu.
On June 7, the Idaho Secretary of State formally convened the Idaho Commission on Reapportionment. The Commission has until September 4 (90 days) to submit a map approved by at least 4 of the 6 members. In a move that attempts to avoid cutting it close to the deadline, Co-chairman Evan Frasure said that the Commission plans to submit maps by July 27.
- Chair, Jeanne D. Hitchcock, Esq., Secretary of Appointments
- Thomas Mike Miller, Jr., Senate President
- Michael E. Busch, Speaker of the House
- James King, Former House Member
- Richard Stewart, President and CEO, Montgomery Mechanical Services Incorporated
A bipartisan panel commissioned to redraw Congressional districts has been named. The legislature last week passed an order to comply with the court and set a deadline of August 31 for the panel to submit a report. The makeup of the commission will be as follows:
- 3 members appointed by Democratic House leaders
- 3 members appointed by Republican House leaders
- 2 members appointed by Democratic Senate leaders
- 2 members appointed by Republican Senate leaders
- 1 Democratic member of the public
- 1 Republican member of the public
- 1 member appointed by the Democratic party chair
- 1 member appointed by the Republican party chair
- 1 member, who will serve as chair, appointed by the two public members
The following members of the commission have been announced:
Congressional redistricting for the two seats in Maine must be completed by September 30, 2011 or a court will draw the maps.
The six-member joint legislative task force in charge of redistricting in New York held its first meeting on Wednesday. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) reiterated what he has been saying for months -- that he will veto any plan that is not drawn by an independent commission.
The six members of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment are:
The joint panel will hold 12 public hearings starting July 19 and concluding October 5. The dates are:
Meanwhile, lawmakers said they would not be able to count prisoners in their home districts because of the ongoing lawsuit. According to Assemblyman John McEneny, co-chair of the redistricting task force, the lawsuit brought by the New York State Senate GOP is preventing legislators from enacting a new law that would place prisoners in their home districts rather than where the prison is located. In New York, this would have the general impact of increasing populations in New York City and decreasing populations in the rural upstate.
- UPDATE: According to Jeff Wice, a redistricting attorney who serves as counsel to the national Democratic Party as well as a number of individual states, the law as passed by the legislature requires the new maps to count prisoners in their home districts or to remove the prisoners from the redistricting process completely. If legislators draw maps that continue to count prisoners in the district where they are incarcerated, then that would legally violate the current existing New York law. Doing so could open the process to further legal challenges and lawsuits.
|This Week's Redistricting Highlight|
Oklahoma State Senator Jim Wilson (D) has filed a lawsuit with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, challenging Oklahoma's state senate redistricting plan. Wilson is seeking to have the plan thrown out and another drafted, arguing that the maps violate the Oklahoma Constitution.
Filed in 2010, the proposed North Dakota Redistricting Amendment called for requiring that legislative district lines be drawn by an eight-member independent commission. Currently, North Dakota lawmakers are responsible for establishing district lines.
The initiative failed to qualify for the 2010 ballot but remained valid for one year. According to new census numbers, the measure required a minimum of 26,904 valid signatures in order to qualify for the 2012 ballot.
However, as of July 5, the measure failed to collect sufficient signatures. According to reports, the supporting campaign only collected an estimated 5,000 signatures.
An ethics case involving Ohio Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R) has been referred to the House Ethics Committee. While the commission has not released the details of the case, it may relate to allegations made by Schmidt’s political rival David Krikorian, who challenged Schmidt in 2008 and 2010. Krikorian alleges that Schmidt accepted "blood money" from Turkish interest groups to oppose a resolution condemning the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Schmidt has a pending lawsuit against Krikorian for defamation. In a press release, the committee noted that the "fact of a referral... does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgement on behalf of the Committee." Krikororian has suggested that the investigation may imperil Rep. Schmidt's seat during the redistricting process. Ohio must trim two Congressional seats, and early speculation has been that despite complete Republican control over the process, lawmakers will eliminate one Democratic and one Republican incumbent.
The Committee will decide how to precede by August 16.
San Antonio federal judge Orlando Garcia consolidated three of Texas's redistricting lawsuits on Wednesday. The three suits - one filed by a legislator, one filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, and one by the League of United Latin American Citizens - all center around claims that the redistricting plans passed by the Texas State Legislature do not give proportional representation to minorities. The consolidated case is set to be heard on September 6, 2011. The plaintiffs hope to replace the existing redistricting maps.
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