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Posts in "Voting Rights Act"
August 6, 2014
It’s back to the drawing board for Florida lawmakers, who must return to Tallahassee this week for a rushed redraw of the state’s congressional map.
On Friday, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis issued an order setting an Aug. 15 deadline for the legislature to redraw the map and for state officials to develop a revised election schedule. A trial on the proposed map and schedule will take place on Aug. 20, with a ruling expected the following day.
The special legislative session, scheduled to start Thursday, comes nearly a month after a state judge ruled two congressional districts violated the state constitution, which prohibits drawing districts to favor a political party or incumbent.
The Florida primary is scheduled for Aug. 26, so it’s still unclear whether the new congressional map would take effect for the 2014 election cycle. Full story
June 25, 2013
The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act will change the country’s politics. And in some cases, the change could come as soon as 2014.
On the surface, the ruling now allows certain states to make changes to their voting laws without federal approval. But the political implications will reach beyond those states, especially as Democrats try to use the decision to energize minority voters for the midterm elections.
On Tuesday, the high court ruled unconstitutional a key part, Section 4, of the Voting Rights Act. That provision detailed the formula used to decide which states must have pre-clearance from the federal government before making changes to voting laws because, according to the now-voided provision, those jurisdictions had a history of discrimination.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. described the Section 4 coverage formula as outdated in his majority opinion, calling on Congress to develop a new way to pick which states must get federal approval. But it’s unlikely the House and Senate will pass something soon, given the contentious nature of voting rights and the gridlock on Capitol Hill.
As a result, it’s likely no state will have to seek federal approval to change its voting laws in the immediate future.
To be sure, the high court’s ruling will have a greater effect in the long term. For example, in 2020, states previously covered by the law’s Section 5 won’t have to get federal approval for their redrawn congressional maps, giving local officials new leeway to draw district boundaries. Those new maps will take effect in 2022.
But voters could see the effects of this week’s ruling much sooner as well. Here are four ways the ruling could play into the 2014 midterms: Full story
February 12, 2013
President Barack Obama announced his intention to create a nonpartisan commission to “improve the voting experience in America” during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
“I’m asking two longtime experts in the field, who, by the way, recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Gov. [Mitt] Romney’s campaign, to lead it,” Obama told lawmakers gathered in the House chamber.
Bob Bauer, a lawyer at Perkins Coie who served as Obama’s White House counsel, also chaired his re-election committee and counsels the Democratic National Committee.
Benjamin Ginsberg, a lawyer at Patton Boggs, advised the Romney campaign and was also national counsel to the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2000 and 2004.
The commission would focus on specific Election Day issues and not delve into more comprehensive voting overhaul efforts, according to media reports.
Obama referenced the need to overhaul voting procedures in both his November victory speech and his inaugural address, saying on Election Day of the long lines: “We need to fix that.” He echoed that sentiment Tuesday evening. Full story
January 24, 2013
Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine — both former governors of the commonwealth — are disappointed with a couple of bills moving forward in the state Senate, including a proposal that would allocate the state’s presidential electoral votes by congressional district.
That bill, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Bill Carrico, would give presidential nominees an electoral vote for each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts they carry, plus two at-large votes to the nominee that wins a majority of the districts. If the bill had been law last year, President Barack Obama would have won just four of the state’s 13 electoral votes, despite winning the state by some 150,000 votes.
“The vote is sacred,” Kaine said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “No legislative chamber should use this kind of partisan stunt to gain a temporary advantage at the expense of the electorate. It’s dirty tricks like this that will keep the Virginia legislature a staple on late night TV.” Full story
September 6, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rep. John Lewis (Ga.) delivered a blistering critique of new GOP-backed voter identification laws, weaving in his personal civil rights story to emphasize to a packed convention crowd, “we have come too far together to ever turn back.”
On the final night of the Democratic National Convention, Lewis called it “unbelievable that there are Republican officials still trying to stop some people from voting.”
“They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the votes,” Lewis said. “I’ve seen this before. I’ve lived this before. Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote.” Full story
February 28, 2012
Virginia is one step away from completing redistricting after the Richmond Circuit Court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Legislature-drawn Congressional map.
The lawsuit argued that the state Legislature, which Republicans won complete control of in November’s state elections, was constitutionally mandated to complete redistricting in 2011. A similar lawsuit filed in federal court was dismissed Feb. 10. Full story
February 13, 2012
One of two lawsuits filed by Virginia residents over the General Assembly’s inability to complete Congressional redistricting last year was dismissed in federal court Friday.
According to the office of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed the case brought by six residents in part “based on its finding that the recent actions of the General Assembly in passing a new redistricting rendered the case moot.”
The decision came one day after the state House of Delegates unanimously approved a bill that would push back the Congressional primaries from June 12 to Aug. 21 — a move requested by Cuccinelli in reaction to the lawsuits. The emergency bill must be passed by the state Senate and signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R). Full story