Dave Beaudoin

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Federal three-judge panel rules South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District unconstitutional

On January 6, 2023, a federal three-judge panel ruled that South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District was unconstitutional and enjoined the state from conducting future elections using its district boundaries. The panel’s opinion said, “The Court finds that race was the predominant factor motivating the General Assembly’s adoption of Congressional District No. 1… Plaintiffs’ right to be free from an unlawful racial gerrymander under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment has been violated. Defendants have made no showing that they had a compelling state interest in the use of race in the design of Congressional District No. 1 and thus cannot survive a strict scrutiny review.”

The panels’ ruling ordered the General Assembly to submit a remedial map for its review by March 31, 2023. It said, “the Court hereby enjoins the conducting of an election under congressional District No. 1 until a constitutionally valid apportionment plan is approved by this Court.”

Caitlin Byrd of the Post and Courier reported that South Carolina House Speaker Murrell Smith (R) expected lawmakers to appeal the ruling. After the court’s order, Smith said, “I maintain that the House drew maps without racial bias and in the best interest of all the people of this state.”

The panel’s’ three judges were 4th Circuit Appeals Court Justice Toby Heytens—who President Joe Biden (D) appointed—and district court judges Mary Geiger Lewis and Richard Mark Gergel—who President Barack Obama (D) appointed.

The three-judge panel also determined that the state’s 2nd and 5th Congressional District boundaries were constitutional and dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims regarding those, saying, “Plaintiffs have failed to carry their burden to prove that race was the predominant factor in the design of Congressional District Nos. 2 and 5.”

On February 10, 2022, the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and a South Carolina voter had filed an amended complaint in their lawsuit against State Senate President Thomas Alexander (R), four other state legislators, and the members of the South Carolina State Election Commission challenging the constitutionality of the state’s congressional district boundaries. The complaint argued that South Carolina’s enacted congressional map “discriminates on the basis of race by appearing to preserve the ability of Black voters to elect in Congressional District 6 (“CD”) while working adeptly to deny the ability of Black voters to elect or even influence elections in any of the other six congressional districts.

South Carolina enacted new congressional district maps on January 26, 2022, when Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed a proposal approved by the South Carolina House and Senate into law. Both state legislative chambers approved the congressional map strictly along party lines, with Republicans supporting the proposal and Democrats opposing it.

Sixty-eight legislative districts in five states were either renamed or eliminated after the 2020 census

As state legislatures nationwide convene for their first sessions after the 2022 elections, 68 legislative districts in five states were either renamed or eliminated and no longer exist.

Forty-six of the 68 renamed or eliminated districts are in Vermont, one of three New England states—along with Massachusetts and New Hampshire—that include the town as part of the legislative district name. Those three states use district names that refer to both the town and a number, such as “New Hampshire House of Representatives Rockingham 17.” Population shifts in these states may result in one town or area needing more or fewer districts than after the last census, resulting in renamed or eliminated districts.

Here is a list of states and the number of renamed or eliminated legislative districts in each:

  1. Maryland (11)
  2. Massachusetts (1)
  3. North Dakota (2)
  4. New Hampshire (8)
  5. Vermont (46)

Maryland, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Vermont are among nine states that use multi-member districts in their legislatures. This may also result in renaming during redistricting if legislators change a district from single member to multi-member, or vice versa. For example, when North Dakota redistricted after the 2020 census, it converted North Dakota House of Representatives District 4 from a multi-member district that elected two members into a District 4A and 4B that elected one member each. The same thing happened with House of Representatives District 9. The state’s other 45 multi-member House districts remained the same.

The total number of state legislators nationwide changed slightly, from 7,383 before the 2022 elections to 7,386, and the overall number of legislators remained the same in 49 states. Wyoming was the only state to change the size of its legislature after the 2020 census, creating one new Senate seat and two new House seats during redistricting. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Wyoming changed its number of legislators five times between 1964 and 1992.

It is relatively uncommon for states to change their numbers of legislators during redistricting. New York increased its number of state Senators by one after both the 2010 and 2000 censuses. Also, after 2000, two states—North Dakota and Rhode Island—reduced their number of legislators in both chambers.

After the 2020 census, West Virginia adopted a redistricting plan that changed the state House from having 47 single-member and 20 multi-member districts to having, instead, 100 single-member districts. While the number of districts changed, the number of seats remained the same at 100.

Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission submits final legislative district boundary proposal to legislature

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission (MDAC) voted 3-2 to submit its final legislative district boundary proposal to the legislature. The commission’s nonpartisan chairperson, Maylinn Smith, and two Democratic-appointed commissioners voted to approve the map, and the two Republican-appointed commissioners voted against it.

According to Nicole Girten of the Daily Montanan, “The legislature will have 30 days after submission on Jan. 6 to comment on the map before it gets kicked back to the commission, which will…meet again in February to receive recommendations from the legislature and will then have 30 days to submit the final map to the Secretary of State’s Office.”

MDAC Commissioner Jeff Essmann, who was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas (R), stated his opposition to the final proposal: “This map does have compromises, but I would not call it a compromise map. There are still significant differences that we have in viewing this map, as was evidenced even today.” Commissioner Kendra Miller, who was appointed to the MDAC by House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner (D), said that both the Republican and Democratic commissioners knew Smith, who was appointed to the MDAC by the Montana Supreme Court, would cast the tie-breaking vote: “They needed to put up what they thought was the very best map they had, that met the criteria and could get her vote…We had to put up a map that we knew was going to be superior on criteria, and that’s what we did.”

After the MDAC voted 3-2 to advance the proposal on Dec. 1 for consideration at a public hearing. Arren Kimbel-Sannit of the Montana Free Press wrote that the proposed map “yields 60 House seats that, to varying degrees, favor Republicans, and 40 that favor Democrats. Ten of the seats are considered competitive based on metrics the commission adopted earlier in the process, with five that lean Republican and five that lean Democratic.”

The MDAC voted 3-2 to enact the state’s new congressional district boundaries on Nov. 12, 2021. Both Republican commissioners and Smith voted in favor of that map, and the two Democratic commissioners voted against it.

More information about the final legislative map proposal—named “Tentative Commission Plan-3″—along with population and statistical reports and GIS shapefiles, can be viewed by visiting the MDAC’s website.

Additional reading:

Mississippi lawsuit challenges state’s legislative districts

The Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP and five Mississippi voters filed a lawsuit in federal district court on Dec. 20 challenging the state’s newly enacted legislative district map. The suit alleges that the boundaries the legislature enacted in March 2022 violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act and “illegally dilute the voting strength of Black Mississippians and improperly use voters’ race to achieve partisan goals and protect incumbent politicians.”

The suit also argues that “Mississippi’s Black population could support at least four additional Black-majority Senate districts and at least three additional Black-majority House districts in several areas across the State, where Black voters, despite their numbers, and despite voting cohesively, have previously been unable to elect candidates of their choice, in large part due to the prevalence of racially polarized voting.”

Mississippi enacted new state legislative district boundaries on March 31, 2022, when both legislative chambers approved district maps for the other chamber. Legislative redistricting in Mississippi is done via a joint resolution and did not require Gov. Tate Reeves’ (R) approval.

When the legislature adopted the new maps, Emily Wagster Pettus of the Associated Press wrote that “Republican legislative leaders said the redistricting plans are likely to maintain their party’s majority in each chamber.” Pettus also wrote that “Senate President Pro Tempore Dean Kirby of Pearl said the Senate redistricting plan keeps the same number of Republican-leaning and Democratic-leaning districts as now.”

Redistricting of the state Senate was approved by the Senate on March 29 by a vote of 45-7, with 31 Republicans and 14 Democrats in favor and five Republicans and two Democrats voting against. The state House approved the Senate’s district boundaries on March 31 by a vote of 68-49. Sixty-two Republicans, three Democrats, and three independents voted in favor, and 35 Democrats and 14 Republicans voted against.

The Mississippi House of Representatives approved new House district boundaries on March 29 by an 81-38 vote. Seventy-three Republicans, five Democrats, and three independents voted to enact the new map, and 36 Democrats and two Republicans voted against it. The Mississippi Senate approved the House map—41 to 8—on March 31, with 34 Republicans and seven Democrats voting in favor and all eight votes against by Democrats.

Mississippi voters will decide elections for all 52 state Senate seats and all 122 state House of Representatives seats in 2023. The qualifying period for prospective state legislative candidates begins on Jan. 3, 2023, and ends on Feb. 1, 2023.

Additional reading:

Plaintiffs challenging Kansas’ congressional district boundaries file appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

On November 23, 2022, the plaintiffs in Alonzo v. Schwab filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). The petition—which asks SCOTUS to hear the case— challenges the Kansas Supreme Court’s May 2022 decision upholding that state’s congressional redistricting plan.

The petitioners allege that the Kansas Supreme Court erroneously ruled “that intentional racial discrimination in redistricting is unconstitutional only if it prevents the formation of a majority-minority district.” The petition also states that “The court did not disagree with the district court’s factual finding, based upon substantial evidence, that the Legislature split Wyandotte County (home to Kansas City) along starkly racial lines in order to eliminate the ability of minority voters to continue electing their preferred candidate; the court simply held that it was irrelevant because those voters were insufficiently numerous to constitute a majority-minority district.”

On June 21, 2022, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned a state district court’s decision that had found that the state’s congressional district boundaries were unconstitutional. The state supreme court’s order said, “The record below demonstrates that plaintiffs did not ask the district court to apply the correct applicable legal tests to their race-based claims. The district court, in turn, did not apply these legal tests to plaintiffs’ race-based claims. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, the district court did not make the requisite fact-findings to satisfy either legal test applicable to plaintiffs’ race-based equal protection claims. Therefore, on the record before us, plaintiffs have failed to satisfy their burden to meet the legal elements required for a showing of unlawful racial gerrymandering or unlawful race-based vote dilution.”

On April 25, 2022, Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper struck down Kansas’ enacted congressional map. The judge’s ruling stated, “The Court has no difficulty finding, as a factual matter, that Ad Astra 2 is an intentional, effective pro-Republican gerrymander that systemically dilutes the votes of Democratic Kansans.” Klapper’s opinion also said that the state’s new district boundaries “intentionally and effectively dilutes minority votes in violation of the Kansas Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.”

Klapper ruled on a case that resulted from the consolidation of three lawsuits challenging congressional district boundaries that were enacted when the legislature overrode Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto on February 9, 2022. The House of Representatives overrode Kelly’s veto 85-37, with all votes in favor by Republicans, and 36 Democrats and one Republican voting to sustain the veto. The Senate overrode Kelly’s veto 27-11 strictly along party lines, with all votes in favor by Republicans and all votes opposed by Democrats.

After the legislature overrode Kelly’s veto, Andrew Bahl of the Topeka Capital-Journal wrote that the “maps were hotly contested, largely for the decision to split Wyandotte County and put part of the Kansas City, Kan., area in the 2nd Congressional District, a move that endangers the state’s lone Democrat in Congress, U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, and, Democrats argue, unfairly divides minority communities.”

Davids defeated Amanda Adkins (R) and Steve Hohe (L) in the November 8, 2022, general election for Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, receiving 55% of the vote. Davids was first elected to the U.S. House in 2018 and was one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, alongside former Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.).

Additional reading:

U.S. Supreme Court to hear oral argument Dec. 7 on elections case

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument in Moore v. Harper on Dec. 7, the last day of its’ December sitting.

Moore v. Harper concerns the elections clause in Article I, section 4 of the Constitution and whether state legislatures alone are empowered by the Constitution to regulate federal elections without oversight from state courts.

The petitioner—North Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Tim Moore (R)—presented to the court the following question: “Whether a State’s judicial branch may nullify the regulations governing the ‘Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives . . . prescribed . . . by the Legislature thereof,’ U.S. CONST. art. I, § 4, cl. 1, and replace them with regulations of the state courts’ own devising, based on vague state constitutional provisions purportedly vesting the state judiciary with power to prescribe whatever rules it deems appropriate to ensure a ‘fair’ or ‘free’ election.

Below is a timeline of the major developments in the case:

  • November 4, 2021: The North Carolina General Assembly adopted new congressional district boundaries after the 2020 census. Subsequently, a group of Democratic Party-affiliated voters and nonprofit organizations challenged the boundaries in state court, alleging that the new map was a partisan gerrymander that violated the state constitution.
  • February 4, 2022: The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the state could not use the map in the 2022 elections and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. The trial court adopted a new congressional map drawn by three court-appointed experts.
  • February 25, 2022: Prior to the state’s May 17 primary, Republican state legislators filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking to halt the state court’s order until SCOTUS could review the case. The court denied the request with Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch dissenting. In the dissent and in a concurrence by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the justices stated that the independent state legislature doctrine was an important question for the court to resolve.
  • March 17, 2022: North Carolina House Speaker Moore filed a petition to the Court for a writ of certiorari.
  • June 30, 2022: The U.S. Supreme Court granted review of the case.

Seventy amicus briefs have been filed in the case, with 17 filed in support of the petitioners, 48 filed in support of the respondents, and five in support of neither party. An amicus curiae is a person or group who is not a party to a legal action, but has a strong interest in the matter and has petitioned the court to submit a brief offering relevant information or arguments.

If the court rules in favor of the petitioners, the power and authority to regulate federal elections would become more concentrated in state legislatures and with the federal judiciary in the event of appellate review. When the case was granted, Republicans controlled 54.1% of all state legislative seats nationally, while Democrats held 44.3%. Republicans held a majority in 62 chambers, Democrats held the majority in 36 chambers, and one chamber—the Alaska House of Representatives—was organized under a multipartisan, power-sharing coalition.

Additional reading:

Alaska At-large U.S. Representative Mary Peltola re-elected

Incumbent Rep. Mary Peltola (D) defeated Sarah Palin (R), Nicholas Begich III (R), and Chris Bye (L) in the general election for Alaska’s at-large congressional district. Peltola, Begich, Palin, and Tara Sweeney (R) had advanced from the Aug. 16 top-four primary. Sweeney subsequently withdrew from the race, meaning Bye, the fifth-place finisher, advanced.

The Alaska Division of Elections released unofficial results on Nov. 23 from the final round of ranked-choice voting which showed Peltola winning re-election with 54.94% of the vote to Palin’s 45.06%. Begich was eliminated in the second round of ranked-choice voting.

Peltola served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009 and was interim executive director of the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Peltola said, “To summarize our campaign in one sentence: I’m pro-jobs, pro-choice, pro-fish, and pro-family.” Peltola said she was representing all Alaskans and working to advance bills Young supported.

Peltola won the special general election for this district on Aug. 16. Former Rep. Don Young (R), who had held the office since 1973, died in March 2022. In that race, Peltola received 40% of the vote to Palin’s 31% and Begich’s 29% on the first round of tallying. After votes from those who ranked Begich as their first choice and someone else as a second choice were redistributed, Peltola defeated Palin, 51.5% to 48.5%.

On Oct. 21, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) endorsed Peltola. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Palin.

Both the special election in August and the November general election used a top-four primary and ranked-choice voting, a system voters approved in 2020. The 2020 measure established open top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices and ranked-choice voting for general elections, including presidential elections. Voters could rank the four candidates that advanced from the primary and if a candidate receives a simple majority of the vote, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a simple majority of the vote, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. People who voted for that candidate as their first choice have their votes redistributed to their second choice.

Additional reading:,_2022_(August_16_top-four_primary),_2022,_Top-Four_Ranked-Choice_Voting_and_Campaign_Finance_Laws_Initiative_(2020)

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy re-elected

Incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy defeated Les Gara (D), Charlie Pierce (R), and Bill Walker (I) in the general election for governor of Alaska. The four candidates advanced from the top-four primary on Aug. 16. Dunleavy’s victory means that Alaska retains its status as a Republican triplex.

The Alaska Division of Elections released unofficial results on Nov. 23 showing Dunleavy winning 50.3% of the first-choice votes, enough to win re-election outright. Nancy Dahlstrom (R) received a majority of first-choice votes and was elected Lt. Governor.

Dunleavy was first elected in 2018, succeeding Walker, who had served as governor since 2014. The Alaska Republican Party endorsed Dunleavy and Pierce. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Dunleavy. The Alaska Democratic Party and Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates backed Gara. Walker received endorsements from several Democratic state legislators and the state AFL-CIO.

This was the first gubernatorial election in Alaska to use a top-four primary and ranked-choice voting for the general election, a system voters approved in 2020. The 2020 measure established open top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices and ranked-choice voting for general elections, including presidential elections. Voters could rank the four candidates that advanced from the primary and if a candidate receives a simple majority of the vote, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a simple majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. People who voted for that candidate as their first choice have their votes redistributed to their second choice.

Additional reading:,_2022_(August_16_top-four_primary),_Top-Four_Ranked-Choice_Voting_and_Campaign_Finance_Laws_Initiative_(2020)

Three states to have veto-proof legislative majority and governor of the opposing party


Two of four states heading into the 2022 elections that had a veto-proof legislative majority and governor of the opposing party—Kentucky and Kansas—maintained that status after the elections. Vermont became a state with a veto-proof legislative majority and opposing-party governor as a result of the 2022 elections.

Maryland and Massachusetts will no longer have a veto-proof legislative majority and governor of the opposing party since the party that held a veto-proof majority also gained control of the governor’s office in the 2022 elections.

State governors may veto bills advanced by the state legislature. With sufficient support—between one-half and two-thirds of sitting legislators, depending on the state—state legislatures may overturn a gubernatorial veto. When one party controls enough seats to overturn a veto without support from the other party, a legislature can hold a veto-proof majority.

Heading into the 2022 elections, four states had a governor of one party and a veto-proof state legislative majority of the opposing party: Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, and Massachusetts. Three states—North Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin—could have switched to having a veto-proof majority and an opposing party governor due to the 2022 elections.

  1. In Kentucky, Republicans maintained their veto-proof majority in both chambers of the state legislature. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) is not up for re-election until 2023.
  2. In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly (D) won re-election. Republicans maintained their veto-proof majority in the state Senate since that chamber did not hold regular elections. Republicans also won at least two-thirds of the seats in the state House of Representatives.
  3. In Maryland, Democrats won the governorship while maintaining their veto-proof state legislative majority and became a Democratic trifecta. Wes Moore (D) won the Maryland gubernatorial election. Incumbent Larry Hogan (R) was term-limited.
  4. In Massachusetts, Democrats won the governorship while maintaining their veto-proof state legislative majority and became a Democratic trifecta. Maura Healey (D) won the Massachusetts gubernatorial election. Incumbent Charlie Baker (R) did not run for re-election.
  5. In Vermont, Democrats gained a veto-proof majority in the state legislature and Phil Scott (R) was re-elected governor.

Two states could have gained a veto-proof legislative majority with an opposing party governor in 2022.

  1. In North Carolina, Republicans gained a three-fifths majority in the state Senate. The final margin of the Republican majority in the North Carolina House of Representatives has not yet been determined. North Carolina holds gubernatorial elections in presidential election years, so Gov. Roy Cooper (D) was not up for re-election.
  2. In Wisconsin, Republicans gained a two-thirds majority in the state Senate but fell at least two seats short of a two-thirds majority in the Wisconsin State Assembly. Incumbent Gov. Tony Evers (D) won re-election.

Four states with a governor of one party and a veto-proof state legislature of the opposing party—Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, and Massachusetts—maintained that status after the 2020 elections. None of those four states held gubernatorial elections that year. Five states could have switched to having a veto-proof state legislature and an opposing party governor because of the 2020 elections but none of them achieved the sufficient legislative majorities to achieve that status.

Additional reading:

Deluzio, Shaffer, and Sluzynsky face off for open seat in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District on Nov. 8

Christopher Deluzio (D), Jeremy Shaffer (R), and write-in candidate Walter Sluzynsky (Independent) are running in the general election in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District on November 8, 2022.

Incumbent Conor Lamb (D), first elected in a March 2018 special election, ran for the U.S. Senate and did not seek re-election. Lamb defeated Sean Parnell (R) in the 2020 general election 51% to 49%.

Insider‘s Hanna Kang wrote, “Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District encompasses the Pittsburgh suburbs of Mt. Lebanon, Penn Hills, and Beaver Falls. President Joe Biden had a 30 percentage point margin of victory under the district’s previous boundaries in 2020 — before it was redrawn to slightly extend its southeastern tip and take in more of the Penn Hills area in Allegheny County in redistricting following the 2020 Census, making it slightly more Democratic.”

Deluzio is an attorney and the policy director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security. He received a bachelor’s degree from the United States Naval Academy and a J.D. from Georgetown Law School. His previous work experience includes serving as an active-duty naval officer and working at the Brennan Center for Justice. Deluzio told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he ran for Congress because “Washington is broken and we need leaders willing to stand up to the corporate giants who are gouging us and against extremism that limits people’s rights…I also think the fundamental rights I served to protect in the military are in jeopardy. From voting rights to abortion rights, we must defend them against those who would attack our freedom.”

Shaffer is an engineer and an executive at Bentley Systems, an infrastructure engineering software company. He received a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University, a master’s and Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and an M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina. His previous work experience includes co-founding a software company that provided inspection management services for bridges and roads. Shaffer told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he was “a bipartisan problem-solver, [that] will work with those on both sides who want to deliver common-sense solutions and real reforms.” He said he ran for Congress because “Politics has become a blood-sport in which our country and average Americans are the losers. We desperately need leaders who will work together and make the tough decisions to put America back on track.”

The outcome of this race will affect the partisan balance of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 118th Congress. All 435 House districts are up for election. As of October 2022, Democrats held a 220-212 majority in the U.S. House with three vacancies. Republicans need to gain a net of five districts to win a majority in the chamber.

Daily Kos calculated what the results of the 2020 presidential election in this district would have been following redistricting. Joe Biden (D) would have received 52.3% of the vote in this district and Donald Trump (R) would have received 46.5%. As of October 2022, 50% of the district’s active voters were registered Democrats, 36% were registered Republicans, and 15% were either registered with some other party or unaffiliated.

Additional reading:,_2020,_2018