New congressional and state legislative maps in three states

Welcome to the Friday, October 8, Brew. Just a heads up: there will be no Brew on Monday but we will be back in your inbox on Tuesday. Enjoy the long weekend!

By: Doug Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Redistricting Roundup: Three more states adopt new maps
  2. Loudoun County, Va., Circuit Court rules school board recall may advance to trial
  3. Two challengers defeat city council incumbents in Birmingham, Ala., general runoff election

Note: Louisiana’s primary elections were originally scheduled for tomorrow, Oct. 9, but were moved to Nov. 13 due to damage caused by Hurricane Ida. Learn more.

Redistricting Roundup: Three more states adopt new maps

Three states—Indiana, Maine, and Nebraska—adopted new congressional district maps between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. Oregon is the only other state to adopt a congressional map in the 2020 redistricting cycle so far.

At this point in the 2010 cycle, 21 states had adopted congressional district maps. The relative delay in 2021 is caused by a delay in the delivery of census data. During the 2010 cycle, states began receiving block-level census data near the start of 2011. In 2021, by comparison, this data was not released until Aug. 12.

In each of these three states, the state legislature is responsible for drawing new district lines, which must then be signed by the governor before going into effect. Indiana and Nebraska, which, collectively, have 12 congressional districts, are both Republican trifectas, meaning Republicans control the legislature and the governorship. Maine, with two congressional districts, is a Democratic trifecta.

In addition to their congressional maps, these states also approved new state legislative district maps.

Here’s a breakdown. Click on the state names to learn more.

Indiana: Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed the state’s new maps into law on Oct. 4. The Indiana General Assembly approved these maps largely along party lines. 

In a statement issued after signing the state’s new district boundaries, Gov. Holcomb said, “I want to thank both the House and Senate for faithfully following through in an orderly and transparent way. And, a special thanks to every Hoosier who participated in the process by sharing their local perspective and input.” 

In a statement following approval of the maps in the Assembly, State Sen. Eddie Melton (D) said, “I’m very disappointed by the partisan nature of the redistricting process as well as the actions by the supermajority to deliberately dilute minority voices.”

Maine: Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed the state’s new maps into law on Sept. 29. The Maine State Legislature approved the new congressional map with unanimous support. In Maine, a two-thirds majority is required to pass congressional maps. 

The legislature also voted unanimously in favor of the new Senate boundaries. The state Senate unanimously supported the new House lines, and the House voted 119-10 in favor of them.

Upon signing the new district plans, Gov. Mills released a statement congratulating legislators “for preparing and approving new maps that fulfill our commitment to making sure Maine people are equally and fairly represented in their government,” adding, “To have done so without rancor and partisanship and under a constrained timeline is something Maine people can be proud of.”

Nebraska: Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) signed the state’s new maps into law on Sept. 30. The Nebraska State Senate approved the congressional map by a 35-11 vote, with all dissenting votes coming from Democrats. All Republicans in attendance along with four Democrats voted in favor of the map. The legislature approved the state legislative map by a 37-7 vote. Five Democrats and two Republicans voted against the map. Eight Democrats and 29 Republicans voted in favor of the map.

While the Nebraska State Senate is officially nonpartisan, Ballotpedia collects information from numerous sources such as voter registration websites, party endorsement lists, and news coverage to determine partisan affiliations.

Following the approval of the maps, Sen. Justin Wayne (D) said: “It was a very frustrating process, but we got to a good result.” Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R), chair of the redistricting committee, expressed approval of the maps and, regarding the possibility of partisan impasse, said she was “constantly reminded how capable Sen. Wayne is” during the negotiations.

Loudoun County, Va., Circuit Court rules school board recall may advance to trial

An effort to recall Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia moved forward at a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5. At the hearing, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Jeanette Irby ruled that the recall effort could advance to a full trial, denying Barts’ motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney.

The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor to take the place of Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, whom recall supporters alleged was a friend of Barts’. The case will go to trial after the special prosecutor is named.

Barts was first elected on Nov. 5, 2019, receiving 54.8% of the vote. Though school board elections in Virginia are nonpartisan, Barts is supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Supporters of Barts’ recall are also circulating petitions against four other members of the nine-member school board in Northern Virginia. In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than through a public vote. Virginia allows an official to be recalled on the following grounds: neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes.

Ballotpedia has tracked 74 school board recall efforts against 192 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest number was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

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Two challengers defeat city council incumbents in Birmingham, Ala., general runoff election

Incumbent City Councilmen William Parker and John Hilliard lost to challengers J.T. Moore and LaTonya Tate, respectively, in the Oct. 5 general runoff election in Birmingham, Ala. The races for these two seats on the nine-seat city council advanced to a runoff after no candidate received a majority vote in the city’s Aug. 24 general election.

Parker, first elected to District 4 in 2013, placed first in the general election with 42% of the vote followed by Moore with 23%. In the runoff, Moore’s vote share increased to 58% while Parker’s remained the same. Hilliard, first elected to District 9 in 2017, similarly placed first in the general election with 49% followed by Tate with 29%. In the runoff, Tate received 52% of the vote to Hilliard’s 48%.

Turnout in the Oct. 5 runoff was lower than the Aug. 24 general. In District 4, the total number of votes cast decreased by 66% from 3,587 on Aug. 24 to 1,215 on Oct. 5. In District 5, the number decreased by 58% from 4,499 to 1,914.

Candidates also competed for two seats on the nine-seat Birmingham Board of Education. In District 9, Jason Meadows earned 72.1% of the vote, defeating Le’Darius Hilliard with 27.9%. The District 1 race remained too close to call, with only a few votes separating incumbent Douglas Ragland from challenger Sherman Collins Jr.

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