Tag Archives: Voting Rights Act of 1965

Evil GOP bastards are trying to negate the AIRC so the legislature does redistricting maps again

SCR 1034 (.pdf), sponsored by Senator Yarbrough, would alter sections of the citizens initiative that established the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

Among the changes are an increase in the number of Commissioners to eight, selected directly by legislative leaders rather than the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, which would lead to partisan gridlock because it also requires a supermajority vote of the AIRC to adopt a map (unlikely), which would then allow the legislature to refer its own alternate maps to the ballot (by simple majority vote), and if approved by the voters, would supersede the maps drawn by the Commission. Thus the legislature is back in the redistricting business again! Bwahahaha!

The Senate Government Committee approved the resolution on a 4-3 partisan vote on Wednesday. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, GOP proposal would restructure Arizona redistricting:

Critics warn that a plan to alter the membership of a commission responsible for drawing Arizona’s congressional and legislative district maps is designed to fail.

Senate President Steve Yarbrough conceded that by increasing the number of members on the Independent Redistricting Commission from five to eight, it’s likely that the commission would face gridlock.

“That is indeed going to create a probable 4-4 (vote) by my own estimation, but that is by design,” the Chandler Republican told the Senate Government Committee, which approved the resolution on a 4-3 partisan vote Wednesday.

Requiring a supermajority to approve maps during redistricting, a highly-contentious process that creates district maps that will be used for the next decade, will require commissioners to find true bipartisan consensus, Yarbrough said.

“I want the most bipartisan and fair process that we can design,” he said.

This is a bald-faced lie. Keep reading for the true reason.

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Partisan gerrymandering cases headed to the U.S. Supreme Court

There has been a lot happening in partisan gerrymandering lawsuits lately, and luckily Rick Hasen at Elction Law Blog has put together a summary of where these cases stand today that will save me a lot of time. The State of Play on Partisan Gerrymandering Cases at the Supreme Court:

Back in 2004 the Supreme Court in Vieth v. Jublelirer split 4-1-4 over what to do about claims that partisan gerrymandering violates the U.S. Constitution. Four Justices said it was non-justiciable, four Justices said it was justiciable and raised a variety of challenges, and Justice Kennedy, in the middle, agreed with the Court’s liberals that the cases were justiciable, but agreed with the Court’s conservatives that the proposed standards didn’t work.  He essentially told everyone to keep working on the issue and come back, maybe looking at the First Amendment, maybe history, and maybe computers.  The cases at or coming to the Court seek to satisfy Justice Kennedy in various ways.

Here’s the state of play; the Supreme Court heard argument in October in Gill v. Whitford involving a challenge to state legislative districts in Wisconsin. Gill raises a partisan gerrymandering challenge under the Equal Protection Clause, and the McGhee/Stephanopoulos “efficiency gap” figured in (but was not the entire basis) for the analysis. Last month, the Court somewhat surprisingly also agreed to hear full argument in Beniske v. Lamone, a case challenging a Maryland congressional district as a partisan gerrymander under the First Amendment. I explained in this LA Times piece why the Court might have agreed to full argument in Benisek v. Lamone. Argument in the Maryland case will be later in the Spring.

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Texas Voter ID law again struck down for purposeful racial discrimination

The Houston Chronicle reports that Federal judge again tosses out Texas voter ID law:

A federal judge who has compared Texas’ voter ID requirements to a “poll tax” on minorities once again blocked the law Wednesday, rejecting a weakened version backed by the Trump administration and dealing Texas Republicans another court defeat over voting rights.

You can read the 27 page opinion and order  HERE (.pdf).

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos rejected changes signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this summer as not only lacking but also potentially chilling to voters because of new criminal penalties. The new version didn’t expand the list of acceptable photo identifications — meaning gun licenses remained sufficient proof to vote, but not college student IDs.

Instead, the changes would allow people who lack a required ID to cast a ballot if they signed an affidavit and brought paperwork that showed their name and address, such as a bank statement or utility bill. Those revisions were supported by the U.S. Justice Department, which under President Barack Obama had joined Democrats and minority rights groups in suing over the law.

But that position has changed with President Donald Trump in charge, who has established a “fraudulent voter fraud commission” to investigate allegations of voter fraud in the 2016 elections. In February, the Trump Justice Department abandoned the argument Texas passed voter ID rules with discrimination in mind and said changes signed by Abbott should satisfy the courts.

Texas first passed the voter ID law in 2011, the same year the GOP-controlled Legislature adopted voting maps that were also struck down as discriminatory [in mid-August]. See Rick Hasen, Breaking: 3-Judge Court Issues Latest Order in Texas Redistricting Case (Congressional Seats), Finding Continued Intentional Racial Discrimination. You can read the court’s 107-page order here.

UPDATE: The Texas Tribune reports:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton revealed Friday that Gov. Abbott won’t ask lawmakers to redraw the state’s congressional map — found by a federal court this week to discriminate against Latino and black voters — in a fresh round of legislative overtime.

Instead, Paxton is appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court and trying to keep the boundaries intact for the 2018 elections, according to his filing to a panel of three judges in San Antonio.

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Another GOP voter suppression plan

Why is it every time I see a piece of bad legislation in the Arizona legislature, this guy’s name appears to be attached to it? What the heck is wrong with voters living in legislative district 6 (specifically in Navajo, Gila and Yavapai Counties)? You ought to be embarrassed to send someone as backwards as this to the Arizona legislature.

The latest bad legislation is yet another GOP voter suppression plan sponsored by Rep. Bob Thorpe still seeking to bar student voting on campus:

The proposal by Rep. Bob Thorpe would put a provision that students who want to vote would be able to do so only by signing up to get an early ballot from the voting precinct where they were living before they went to college, presumably the address of their parents.

More to the point, they would not be able to use their college address. And that would apply not only to those who live in a campus dormitory but even those who have off-campus apartments or houses.

This is where Howard Fischer in his reporting should have stated up front (he puts it at the very end of his report) that the U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed (no opinion) that this was unconstitutional in SYMM v. U.S., 439 U.S. 1105 (1979), in which the Court summarily affirmed United States v. Texas, 445 F.Supp. 1245 (S.D.Tex. 1978), holding unconstitutional the denial to Prairie View students of the presumption of bona fide residency extended to other Waller County students. The three-judge District Court panel relied on a series of college student voting rights precedents under the Voting Rights Act and the 26th Amendment.

In other words, this issue has long ago been decided. Yet every election cycle some jurisdiction tries to keep college students from voting where they are attending college, and every election cycle this unconstitutional voter suppression effort is enjoined by the courts. The baffling part is the regularity with which jurisdictions keep trying to do this even when the law is clearly established.

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SCOTUS rejects two North Carolina districts for racial gerrymandering

The Supreme Court today ruled on the long-awaited gerrymandering case from North Carolina, Cooper v. Harris. The ruling is Here (.pdf).

Adam Liptak of the New York Times reports, Justices Reject 2 Gerrymandered North Carolina Districts, Citing Racial Bias:

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down two North Carolina congressional districts, ruling that lawmakers had violated the Constitution by relying too heavily on race in drawing them.

The court rejected arguments from state lawmakers that their purpose in drawing the maps was not racial discrimination but partisan advantage.

* * *

In their decision this week, the justices were unanimous in rejecting District 1, in the northeastern part of the state. After the 2010 census, lawmakers increased the district’s black voting-age population to 52.7 percent from 48.6 percent.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court, said black voters, in coalitions with others, had been able to elect their preferred candidates even before the redistricting. Adding additional black voters to the district, she wrote, amounted to an unconstitutional racial gerrymander.

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Donald Trump’s delusional ‘voter fraud’ commission is a farce

Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes, even while he won the presidency with an electoral college victory. Without evidence, Trump tells lawmakers 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote.

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In pursuit of the delusions of our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief, Donald Trump today issued an “Executive Order Establishing of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.”

Yeah, that’s not at all what this executive order is about. It is about Trump trying to validate his delusions that he won the popular vote but for voter fraud by millions of Americans. It’s time to invoke the 25th Amendment rather than humor this madman.

The Hill gets this right. Trump signs order launching voter fraud investigation:

The commission will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will serve as vice chair, the White House announced during Thursday’s press briefing.

So a GOP led commission with Kris Kobach, the GOP’s dark prince of voter suppressions efforts serving as vice chair. Oh hell no!

This commission has zero credibility and no self-respecting Democrat or election integrity expert or academic should agree to serve on this farce of a commission. Boycott this commission.

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