TagRedistricting

Missouri Senate approves amendment that would make changes to Missouri Amendment 1 passed in 2018

On Monday, the Missouri Senate approved Senate Joint Resolution 38 (SJR 38) that would amend Article III of the Missouri Constitution to change certain provisions of Missouri Amendment 1 passed in 2018. SJR 38 was approved in a vote of 22-9. The amendment would enact the following changes:

• eliminate the nonpartisan state demographer and revert back to a bipartisan commission appointed by the governor;
• alter the criteria used to draft district maps;
• change the threshold of lobbyist gifts from $5 to $0; and
• lower the contribution limit for state senate campaigns from $2,500 to $2,400.
The measure must receive a simple majority vote (82 votes) in the state House to appear before voters.

Missouri Amendment 1 (2018) was an initiated constitutional amendment approved with 62% of the vote. The amendment created a position called the non-partisan state demographer, which was tasked with drawing state legislative districts. Amendment 1 required the state demographer and redistricting commissions to consider specific criteria, including what the initiative calls partisan fairness and competitiveness, contiguousness, compactness, and the boundaries of political subdivisions. SJR 38 would require that population size, adherence to voting rights laws, compactness, and boundaries of political subdivisions have a higher priority than partisan fairness and competitiveness in the criteria used for redistricting.

Amendment 1 also prohibited the Missouri State Legislature from passing laws allowing for unlimited campaign contributions to candidates for the state legislature. Amendment 1 established campaign contribution limits for legislative candidates and their committees for a single election cycle to $2,500 per person to a state Senate candidate and $2,000 per person to a state House candidate.

Amendment 1 was sponsored by Clean Missouri. On February 10, the committee reported receiving a $100,000 contribution from the Action Now Initiative after SJR 38 passed the state Senate. In 2018, Clean Missouri and an allied committee, Fight for Reform – Missouri, raised a total of $5.63 million, including $1.01 million from the Action Now Initiative and $1.00 million from the National Education Association. The Missourians First and Advance Missouri PACs, which registered to oppose Amendment 1, raised $343,201.

SJR 38 was introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives on February 11.

Additional Reading:



The Ballot Bulletin: February 2020

Wisconsin governor establishes advisory redistricting commission 

On Jan. 27, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed an executive order creating an advisory redistricting commission. The commission will prepare congressional and state legislative district plans for Wisconsin lawmakers to consider. The plans are advisory, and the legislature will be under no obligation to accept the commission’s recommendations. The commission will be made up of members from each of the state’s congressional districts. Elected and political party officials, as well as lobbyists, will be barred from serving as commissioners. The order specified neither the number of commissioners nor the manner of appointment. It established the following criteria for the commission’s proposed maps:

  • “Be free from partisan bias and partisan advantage”
  • “Avoid diluting or diminishing minority votes, including through the practices of ‘packing’ or ‘cracking'”
  • “Be compact and contiguous”
  • “Avoid splitting wards and municipalities”
  • “Retain the core population in each district”
  • “Maintain traditional communities of interest”
  • “Prevent voter disenfranchisement”

Evers said, “I believe, and Wisconsinites do, too, that people should get to choose their elected officials, not the other way around. So, when the People’s Maps are presented to the Legislature next year, I hope they will receive unanimous, bipartisan support.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) criticized the order, saying, “He can form whatever kind of fake, phony, partisan process he wants to create, but I have no doubt in the end we will do it the way we have always have, which is to follow the constitution.”

Upon completion of the census in 2020, congressional seats will be reapportioned to the states on the basis of population. Complete data sets will be delivered to the states in early 2021, at which time they will redraw their congressional and state legislative district maps. The Wisconsin congressional delegation is expected to remain unchanged at eight seats post-census. The legislature is responsible for drafting and adopting both congressional and state legislative district plans, both of which are subject to gubernatorial veto. Lawmakers are expected to take on redistricting as soon as census data is made available in early 2021.

What is an advisory redistricting commission, and how many states use them? An advisory redistricting commission advises state legislatures in drafting and implementing electoral district maps. These recommendations are not legally binding, though they can influence a legislature’s final decisions. An advisory commission is distinct from an independent commission, which can adopt maps without the involvement of the state legislature. 

After the 2010 census, eight states used advisory commissions for some portion of the redistricting process. On the map below, states shaded in dark red used advisory commissions in congressional districting. States shaded in light red used advisory commissions in state legislative districting (note that Rhode Island used advisory commissions for both congressional and state legislative redistricting). 

Missouri Supreme Court strikes down law requiring voters without photo ID to sign affidavits 

On Jan. 14, the Missouri Supreme Court, in a 5-2 ruling, upheld a lower court’s decision striking down a state law requiring voters without photo identification to sign affidavits before voting. Missouri voters may now present either photo or non-photo identification at the polls and cast regular ballots without signing affidavits.

On Oct. 9, 2018, Richard Callahan, a state court judge, originally enjoined the affidavit provision. Callahan ruled that the affidavit’s language was “contradictory and misleading,” requiring signers to “swear that they do not possess a form of personal identification approved for voting while simultaneously presenting to the election authority a form of personal identification that is approved.” Callahan ordered officials to desist from executing the affidavit for voters presenting non-photo ID at the polls. Callahan also ordered officials not to distribute any materials indicating that a photo ID is required to vote. State officials appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, asking it to stay Callahan’s order. On Oct. 19, 2018, the Court denied the request for a stay, but permitted the appeal to proceed. This allowed Callahan’s order to stand in advance of the Nov. 6, 2018, election.

The Court heard oral arguments in the appeal in Oct. 2019. Justice Mary Russell wrote the court’s opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice George Draper and Justices Paul Wilson, Patricia Breckenridge, and Laura Stith. Justices Wesley Powell and Zel Fischer dissented.  Russell wrote, “Because the affidavit requirement of sections 115.427.2(1) and 115.427.3 is misleading and contradictory, the circuit court’s judgment declaring the affidavit requirement unconstitutional is affirmed. Further, the circuit court did not err in enjoining the State from requiring individuals who vote under the non-photo identification option provided in section 115.427.2(1) to execute the affidavit or in enjoining it from disseminating materials indicating photo identification is required to vote.”

Powell, joined by Fischer, wrote in his dissent: “If the affidavit requirement set forth in section 155.4271 is ambiguous, contradictory, and unconstitutional as the principal opinion proclaims, the opinion errs in severing the entire affidavit requirement without also severing the non-photo identification option set out in section 115.427.2 in its entirety. Because the legislature would not have enacted the non-photo identification option without an accompanying affidavit requirement, the principal opinion’s remedy is contrary to law.”

Ballot access requirements for U.S. House candidates in 2020 

All seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election in 2020. How do prospective candidates get on the ballot in their respective states?

Generally speaking, a candidate must pay a filing fee, submit petition signatures, or both in order to appear on the ballot. Filing requirements often vary from state to state and between districts within a state. Filing requirements also differ according to a candidate’s partisan affiliation. Candidates of the major political parties are sometimes subject to different requirements than unaffiliated candidates. 

Petition signature requirements exist on a broad spectrum. For example, in Kentucky, a partisan candidate for the U.S. House must submit a petition containing two signatures in order to get on the ballot (the candidate must also pay a $500 filing fee). This petition requirement is the lowest in the country. By contrast, an unaffiliated candidate for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District must submit 26,538 petition signatures to get on the general election ballot, than in any other congressional district or state (the candidate must also pay a $5,220 filing fee). 

  • Note: Georgia’s filing requirements for independent and minor-party U.S. House candidates are currently the subject of ongoing litigation. Judge Leigh May, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, upheld the requirements in 2019. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit will hear oral argument in the case during the week of May 18-22. For more information, see Richard Winger’s coverage in Ballot Access News

Filing fees are similarly variable. Of the states that require payment of filing fees, Kansas levies the lowest: $20 for unaffiliated candidates (the candidate must also submit 5,000 petition signatures). Meanwhile, in Arkansas, a Republican candidate must pay a filing fee of $15,000, a higher fee than in any other congressional district or state (the candidate does not need to submit petition signatures). 

We have compiled complete filing requirements for major-party and unaffiliated candidates in all 435 U.S. House districts. To peruse the data, click here

Legislation tracking 

Redistricting legislation: The map below shows which states have taken up redistricting policy legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2020 

Current as of Feb. 10, 2020

Electoral systems legislation: The map below shows which states have taken up electoral systems legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2020 

Current as of Feb. 10, 2020

Primary systems legislation: The map below shows which states have taken up electoral systems legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2020 

Current as of Feb. 10, 2020

 



Wisconsin governor establishes advisory redistricting commission

On January 27, 2020, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) signed an executive order creating an advisory redistricting commission to prepare congressional and state legislative district plans for consideration by the state legislature in the coming redistricting cycle. The legislature, vested with the authority to adopt redistricting plans, will be under no obligation to accept the commission’s recommendations.

It established the following criteria for the commission’s proposed maps:
• “Be free from partisan bias and partisan advantage”
• “Avoid diluting or diminishing minority votes, including through the practices of ‘packing’ or ‘cracking'”
• “Be compact and contiguous”
• “Avoid splitting wards and municipalities”
• “Retain the core population in each district”
• “Maintain traditional communities of interest”
• “Prevent voter disenfranchisement”

The order mandated that commissioners must come from each of the state’s congressional districts and barred elected, public, and political party officials and lobbyists from serving as commissioners. The order specified neither the number of commissioners nor the manner of appointment.

Evers said, “I believe, and Wisconsinites do, too, that people should get to choose their elected officials, not the other way around. So, when the People’s Maps are presented to the Legislature next year, I hope they will receive unanimous, bipartisan support.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) criticized the order, saying, “He can form whatever kind of fake, phony, partisan process he wants to create, but I have no doubt in the end we will do it the way we have always have, which is to follow the constitution.”

Upon completion of the census in 2020, congressional seats will be reapportioned to the states on the basis of population. Complete data sets will be delivered to the states in early 2021, at which time they will redraw their congressional and state legislative district maps. Wisconsin is neither expected to gain nor lose congressional seats in the next apportionment. The legislature is responsible for drafting and adopting both congressional and state legislative district plans, both of which are subject to gubernatorial veto. Lawmakers are expected to take on redistricting as soon as census data is made available in early 2021.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:



Ballot Bulletin: A look back on election policy in 2019

Redistricting December 2019 map

Electoral policy legislation in 2019: the year in review

With the year drawing to a close, let’s take a look back at electoral policy legislation in the states in 2019.

Redistricting legislation: This year, we’ve tracked 243 bills relating to redistricting policy. This represents a 179 percent increase over the 87 relevant bills introduced in 2018. Of the 243 bills introduced in state legislatures this year, 22 (or 9 percent) have become law. 

Examples of enacted legislation

  • Virginia HB2760: Requires municipal clerks to furnish Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps, along with ordinances describing district boundaries, to local election boards, the secretary of the commonwealth, the department of elections, and the division of legislative services whenever redistricting local districts. 
  • Washington SB5502: Moves the deadline by which the redistricting commission must submit its plan to the legislature from Jan. 1 of the year ending in two to Nov. 15 of the year ending in one following completion of the census. 

The map below shows which states having taken up redistricting policy legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2019 

Current as of Dec. 9, 2019

Redistricting December 2019 mapElectoral systems legislation: This year, we’ve tracked 142 bills pertaining to electoral systems policy, addressing such issues as ranked-choice voting and approval voting. This represents a 35 percent increase over the 105 relevant bills introduced in 2018. Of the 142 bills introduced in state legislatures this year, 21 (or 15 percent) have become law. 

Examples of enacted legislation

  • Colorado SB042: Enters Colorado into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. 
  • Maine LD1663: Technical revisions to the state’s election laws relating to ranked-choice voting.

The map below shows which states having taken up electoral systems legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2019 

Current as of Dec. 9, 2019

Electoral systems December 2019 map

Primary systems legislation: This year, we’ve tracked 13 bills pertaining to primary systems policy, addressing such issues as top-two primaries and open primaries. This represents a 41 percent decrease from the 22 relevant bills introduced in 2018. Of the 13 bills introduced in state legislatures this year, none have become law. 

Examples of proposed legislation

  • North Carolina H994: Proposes implementation of a top-four primary and ranked-choice voting in the subsequent general election for all state and federal offices (except the presidency). 
  • New York A07934: A proposed constitutional amendment creating top-two primaries for state and federal offices.

The map below shows which states having taken up electoral systems legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2019 

Current as of Dec. 9, 2019

Primary systems December 2019 mapNorth Carolina court allows remedial U.S. House maps to stand for 2020, opens candidate filing period

On Dec. 2, 2019, a three-judge panel of North Carolina’s state superior court ruled unanimously that U.S. House elections in 2020 will take place under a remedial map (depicted below) that state lawmakers adopted in November. The court had earlier ruled that the original map was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander under state law. The court also ordered that the candidate filing period open immediately, having previously delayed the filing period pending consideration of the remedial map and the objections to it. 

North Carolina remedial U.S. House map

Click the above image to see a larger version of the remedial map. 

How did this start? On Sept. 27, opponents of North Carolina’s congressional district plan filed suit, alleging that the district map enacted by the state legislature in 2016 constituted a partisan gerrymander in violation of state law. The plaintiffs asked that the court bar the state from using the maps in the 2020 election cycle. On Oct. 28,  the court granted this request, enjoining further application of the 2016 maps. In its order, the court wrote, “The loss to Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution will undoubtedly be irreparable if congressional elections are allowed to proceed under the 2016 congressional districts.” The court did not issue a full decision on the merits, stating that “disruptions to the election process need not occur, nor may an expedited schedule for summary judgment or trial even be needed, should the General Assembly, on its own initiative, act immediately and with all due haste to enact new congressional districts.” The same three-judge panel, comprising Judges Paul C. Ridgeway, Joseph N. Crosswhite, and Alma L. Hinton, struck down the state’s legislative district plan on similar grounds on Sept. 3.

The House approved the remedial map (HB1029) 55-46 on Nov. 14 .The vote split along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor of the bill and all Democrats voting against it. The Senate approved the bill 24-17 on Nov. 15, also along party lines.

What were the reactions to the remedial map? Democrats opposed the remedial plan and announced their intention to challenge it in court. Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General and chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said, “The congressional map passed by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature simply replaces one partisan gerrymander with a new one. This new map fails to respond to the court’s order by continuing to split communities of interest, packing voters in urban areas, and manipulating the district lines to provide Republicans with an unfair partisan advantage.” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R) dismissed Holder’s criticism: “Eric Holder and (former President) Barack Obama have raised a lot of money for this outcome, and they’ve pursued a really aggressive legal strategy for their partisan outcomes, and right now they’re calling it partisan gerrymandering, but what they’re seeking is partisan gerrymandering for the left. We basically have a Wild West of redistricting. This will be the fourth map in six cycles, and I think that is so confusing for voters and has a major negative impact on voters.”

What comes next? In 2020, North Carolina’s 13 seats in the U.S. House will be up for election. Heading into 2020, Republicans hold 10 of those seats, and Democrats hold the remaining three. In the wake of the court’s Dec. 2 order confirming the implementation of the remedial map in 2020, Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, said via Twitter, “Not going to officially make NC House ratings changes until we know the new map is final, but here’s what’s tentatively coming: NC-2: Likely R to Safe D; NC-6: Safe R to Safe D; NC-8: Safe R to Likely R; NC-13: Likely R to Safe R. Ratings changes suggest a two-seat D net gain.”

California Supreme Court rules law requiring presidential candidates to disclose income tax returns unconstitutional

On Nov. 21, 2019, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that SB27, which requires presidential candidates to file copies of their income tax returns with the California secretary of state in order to qualify for placement on the primary ballot, violates Article II, Section 5(c) of the state constitution. Article II, Section 5(c) states that “the Legislature shall provide for partisan elections for presidential candidates, and political party and party central committees, including an open presidential primary whereby the candidates on the ballot are those found by the Secretary of State to be recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States, and those whose names are placed on the ballot by petition, but excluding any candidate who has withdrawn by filing an affidavit of noncandidacy.” Writing for the court, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, joined by Associate Justices Goodwin Liu, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Carol Corrigan, Leondra Kruger, Ming Chin, and Joshua Groban, said, “The Legislature may well be correct that a presidential candidate’s income tax returns could provide California voters with important information. But article II, section 5(c) embeds in the state Constitution the principle that, ultimately, it is the voters who must decide whether the refusal of a ‘recognized candidate throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States’ to make such information available to the public will have consequences at the ballot box.”

Enforcement of SB27, which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom (D) on July 30, 2019, had already been enjoined by Judge Morrison England of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. In his opinion, dated October 1, 2019, England wrote, “[The] Court finds that Plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their arguments that the Act 1) violates the Presidential Qualifications Clause contained in Article II of the United States Constitution; 2) deprives Plaintiffs of their rights to associate and/or to access the ballot, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution; 3) further violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause as set forth in the Fourteenth Amendment; and 5) is preempted by the provisions of [the Ethics in Government Act of 1978] in any event.”

On Oct. 8, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) appealed England’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In light of the state supreme court’s ruling on the matter, Padilla announced Nov. 21 he would abandon his appeal to the Ninth Circuit.