Welcome to the Friday, February 18, Brew.
By: Douglas Kronaizl
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Five governors—all in states with divided governments—have vetoed at least one redistricting map this cycle
- New Mexico voters will decide amendment changing when appointed judges must stand for election
- #FridayTrivia: Before this week, when was the last time a city official faced a recall election in San Francisco?
Five governors—all in states with divided governments—have vetoed at least one redistricting map this cycle
During the current redistricting cycle, five governors—all in states with divided governments—have vetoed at least one redistricting map. Legislators overrode these vetoes in three states—Kansas, Kentucky, and Maryland—and mapmaking authority passed to the courts in the remaining two—Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
There are currently 13 states with divided governments. Of that total, eight are states where maps are subject to gubernatorial approval. In addition to the five states where governors have vetoed maps, there are two where maps have not yet reached the governor’s desk: Louisiana and Vermont.
Massachusetts is the only state with a divided government where the governor signed all redistricting maps into law. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) enacted the maps, proposed by the Democratic-controlled legislature, last November.
In the remaining five states with divided governments, governors cannot veto map proposals this cycle. This is because maps in those states are enacted either through a commission or court panel.
No governor in a state with a trifecta has vetoed a redistricting map during the current cycle, though Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) allowed his state’s congressional maps to go into effect without his signature.
Minnesota became the most recent state with a divided government to enact new congressional and state legislative maps, after a judicial panel released the state’s new maps on Feb. 15. Minnesota is one of three states, along with Alaska and Virginia, with a divided legislature.
Under state law, the legislature is responsible for redistricting and its proposals are subject to a gubernatorial veto. However, those two branches failed to meet the Feb. 15 deadline for the fifth decade in a row, leading the courts to enact new lines that cannot be vetoed.
Vetoes of redistricting maps are not entirely uncommon. During the redistricting cycle following the 2010 census, five states also had governors who vetoed at least one map proposal: Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, and New Mexico. All five states similarly had divided governments at that time.
New Mexico voters will decide amendment changing when appointed judges must stand for election
On Feb. 15, the New Mexico State Legislature voted to send a constitutional amendment to the November ballot that would change when judges must stand for election after being appointed to fill a vacancy.
Currently, the state constitution requires that if a supreme court, appellate, or district court judge is appointed to fill a vacancy, he or she must stand for election at the next regularly-scheduled election in order to serve out the remainder of the term.
If voters approve this amendment, that timeline would change. Rather than standing for election at the next regularly-scheduled election, the appointee would instead run in the first election after serving at least one year in the position.
This means if the governor appoints a judge in August of a general election year, that appointee would not stand for election in the November general election, but rather in the next election after serving at least one year in office.
If passed, New Mexico’s timeline would resemble those in Alabama and Minnesota where appointees similarly serve until the next election taking place more than one year after their appointment.
Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D) sponsored the amendment. He said, “The goal here … is to assure that the public is evaluating judges after they’ve spent some time on the bench as opposed to the present time when the law requires the judge to stand for election at the first election after their appointment.”
Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D), who voted against the amendment, said that individuals appointed to the legislature during an election year must stand for election that year, without a one-year wait period. He said the amendment would create a different standard for judicial appointees in a way that “takes a crucial option away from the public.”
This amendment would affect state supreme court, intermediate appellate court, and district court appointees. At the end of each term in office, which ranges from six to eight years depending on the court, judges may choose to stand for retention. It is only when a judge is appointed to fill a vacancy that he or she must stand in a regular election.
New Mexico voters will decide two other amendments on the November ballot. Click here to learn more.
Between 1995 and 2020, New Mexico voters approved 89 of the 102 ballot measures that appeared statewide (87%).
As of Feb. 16, there are 68 statewide ballot measures that have been certified for the ballot in 31 states. Fifty-one of these (75%) are constitutional amendments referred to the ballot by a legislature.
#FridayTrivia: Before this week, when was the last time a city official faced a recall election in San Francisco?
In the Thursday Brew, we brought you results from the recall elections in the San Francisco Unified School District. Voters ultimately recalled all three board members on the ballot: Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga. But local recalls in San Francisco have been relatively rare based on Ballotpedia’s research.
Before this week’s school board recall, when was the last time a city official faced a recall election in San Francisco?