“North Carolina suffers from some of the most extreme gerrymandering in the country. Last year, Republicans only narrowly won the statewide popular vote in congressional elections, 50 percent to 48 percent. Yet they ultimately held on to 10 of North Carolina’s 13 congressional seats. Gerrymandering turned a nail-biter into a landslide.
The good news is that, in October, a state court ruled the congressional map to be illegal, thanks to its blatant “partisan intent.” The judges nudged the state legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, to draw districts that would more accurately reflect voters’ intent.
The bad news is that legislators drew another unfair map, albeit less unfair than the original.
The even worse news is that yesterday the same state court allowed the new map to stand. The judges cited the calendar, saying that rejecting the new map would effectively require the 2020 primaries to be delayed.”
“If Mr. Crowley means what he says, his presence on the November ballot is unlikely to have much of an impact since New York’s 14th Congressional District, which covers parts of Queens and the Bronx, is overwhelmingly Democratic. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has also become extremely well known and popular. But the episode is a grating reminder of the brokenness of the state’s election laws.
New York makes it difficult to vote at nearly every turn. It is one of a minority of states in which there is no early voting, despite a broad push by good government groups and others. Residents must register to vote 25 days before every Election Day — that’s compared with seven days ahead in states like Connecticut and same-day voter registration in states like Colorado.
New York also requires voters who want to change parties to do so more than a year before an election. And it maintains a stockpile of outdated voting machines that have been known to break down, gumming up elections. In 2016, New York City’s Board of Elections wrongfully purged at least 117,000 Democratic voters from the rolls. Reforming the City Board of Elections requires changes to state law.
Jerry H. Goldfeder, a well-known election lawyer, said New York’s election laws are “extremely, uniquely peculiar.”
“They need a total revamping to make it easier for voters to understand, for candidates to run and to make sure the winners reflect the preferences of the voters,” Mr. Goldfeder said.
Fixing this will require action from the State Legislature and the governor. If Democrats win control of the State Senate this November, a unified state government should get it done.”
By Adam Liptak June 18, 201811
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court declined on Monday to decide two challenges to partisan gerrymandering, citing technical grounds.In a case from Wisconsin, the court said plaintiffs there had not proved they had suffered the sort of direct injury to give them standing to sue. The court sent the case back to the lower courts to allow the plaintiffs to try again.In a second case, from Maryland, the court ruled against the challengers in an unsigned opinion.
The decisions were a setback for critics of partisan gerrymandering, who had hoped that the Supreme Court would decide the cases on their merits and rule in their favor, transforming American democracy by subjecting to close judicial scrutiny oddly shaped districts that amplify one party’s political power.”
I have an unhappy face.
“WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court rejected on Monday a second emergency application from Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania seeking to overturn decisions from that state’s highest court, which had ruled that Pennsylvania’s congressional map had been warped by partisan gerrymandering and then imposed one of its own.
The ruling means a new map drawn by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will very likely be in effect in this year’s elections, setting the stage for possible gains by Democrats. Under the current map, Republicans hold 12 seats while Democrats hold five and are expected to pick up another when the result of a special election last week is certified.The latest application was denied by the full Supreme Court without comment or noted dissents.”
David Lindsay: The resistance to GOP Trumptopia just got a boost from the Supreme Court! Thank you for calling one for democracy. Pennsylvania districts will be un-gerrymandered
“WASHINGTON — In Pennsylvania, a Republican lawmaker unhappy with a State Supreme Court ruling on gerrymandering wants to impeach the Democratic justices who authored it.
In Iowa, a running dispute over allowing firearms in courthouses has prompted bills by Republican sponsors to slash judges’ pay and require them to personally pay rent for courtrooms that are gun-free.
In North Carolina, the Republican Party is working on sweeping changes to rein in state courts that have repeatedly undercut or blocked laws passed by the legislature.
Rather than simply fighting judicial rulings, elected officials in some states across the country — largely Republicans, but Democrats as well — are increasingly seeking to punish or restrain judges who hand down unfavorable decisions, accusing them of making law instead of interpreting it.
Civil liberties advocates and other critics have a different take: The real law-flouting, they say, is by politicians who want to punish justices whose decisions offend their own ideological leanings.”
DL: This is how democracies slide into facist dictatorships.
“Even though Doug Jones won a famous statewide victory in last month’s Alabama Senate race, he actually lost — less famously — to Roy Moore in six of the state’s seven congressional districts. That’s right: He carried only the heavily black Seventh Congressional District, into which the Alabama Legislature has jammed almost a third of the state’s African-American population while making sure that the rest of the districts remain safely white and Republican.
That’s gerrymandering in the raw. Something equally raw, although less overtly racial, happened in Maryland back in 2011, when the overwhelmingly Democratic State Legislature decided that one Republican out of Maryland’s eight-member congressional delegation was one Republican too many. The 2010 census required the state to shrink the majority-Republican Sixth District by 10,000 people in order to restore one-person, one-vote equality among the districts. Seeing its opportunity for some major new line-drawing, the Legislature conducted a population transfer. It moved 66,417 Republican voters out of the district while moving into it 24,460 Democratic voters from safely Democratic adjoining districts, a swing of more than 90,000 votes. And guess what? The 20-year Republican incumbent, Roscoe Bartlett, lost the 2012 election to the Democratic candidate, John Delaney, who has won re-election ever since.”
Yes. Here is the top comment I endorsed:
One approach is not to have small electoral districts but rather have multiple seats open in a single state. A parliamentary style election in which party has a list of candidates allows proportional representation. If 40% of voters vote for a Republican, 35% for a Democrat, 15% for Libertarians and 10% for the Greens, those percentages determine the allocation of seats.
Alternatively is to have non-partisan “boundary commissions” as they are called in Great Britain. A similar approach is used in California and Arizona.
Gerrymandering – combined with corporate funding of candidates – has corroded American political system.
“Donald Trump was right: America’s political system is rigged.
It’s rigged by politicians who try to keep themselves, and their party, in power by redrawing the geographical boundaries for legislative seats in the states and in Congress.
They can be very open about doing this. In North Carolina, where the statewide vote is often close, a Republican lawmaker was asked why the G.O.P.-led Legislature drew district maps that gave Republicans 10 congressional districts and Democrats only three. He responded, “Because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.” ”
“In 2010, Republicans won unified control of Wisconsin’s government for the first time in years. They were determined not to lose it anytime soon, so they turned the decennial redistricting process, which began in 2011, into a clandestine partisan operation. They set up a “map room” at a Republican-allied law firm, used refined data analyses to draw new, Republican-friendly district lines, and invited only Republican lawmakers to come in and see their new districts — after they signed nondisclosure agreements.
“Measures like this could appeal to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who said in a 2004 case
that he was open to the possibility of a standard that would allow the court to rule on partisan gerrymanders. Justice Kennedy, as usual, holds the key vote on the issue, since the four more liberal justices are probably prepared to strike down Wisconsin’s maps, while the four conservative justices are likely to say the court shouldn’t get involved in the political process. But extreme gerrymandering is a problem that by definition can’t be fixed through the normal political process, since the whole point is to make it hard or impossible for certain voters to make their voices heard. That’s not government of the people; it’s government in spite of the people.”
“The bottom line is that politicians can’t be trusted to draw maps that fairly represent their constituents, and they won’t willingly give up the power once they have it. So it’s up to the courts to step in and set clear rules.”
Solid logic, solid editorial.
Here is a comment I support:
But then again, Republicans have been upending democracy for the past seven years in a blatant and unapologetic manner. Once in power, of course, they protect their ill-gotten prerogative fiercely. The courts are the only way to curb this tendency.
WASHINGTON — As he prepared last week to deliver his farewell address, President Obama convened a trio of Democratic leaders in the White House for a strategy session on the future of their party. The quiet huddle included Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the top Democrats in Congress, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia.One topic of urgent concern, according to people briefed on the meeting: how to break the Republican Party’s iron grip on the congressional map.