Redistricting cycle nears completion, but work remains to be done in 4 states
- Update: The New York Court of Appeals threw out the state's new congressional map on Wednesday afternoon and ordered a new map to be drawn by a special master. The primary will be delayed.
After Florida enacted a new, controversial congressional map late last week, just two states have yet to complete the redistricting process, although courts have thrown out approved maps in two other states and additional lawsuits are pending around the country.
Legislators in Missouri and New Hampshire have yet to pass new maps to be used for the next decade – even though Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s mansion in each state. And a key deadline has already passed in Missouri.
Meanwhile, courts have struck down congressional maps in Kansas and New York.
While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made national headlines by asserting his authority over the redistricting process, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu did the same thing in March but drew far less attention. Perhaps that’s because there is less at stake in New Hampshire (which has two districts split between the parties) than Florida (where DeSantis engineered a map that likely swings four additional seats to the Republican ledger).
Sununu threatened to veto a map approved by the legislature in March and offered his own version that he said would make both districts more competitive. On Tuesday, Republican lawmakers presented a new map that adheres more closely to the original version than Sununu’s proposal, drawing renewed criticism from the governor.
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A swift end to this afternoon\u2019s redistricting news \u2014 @GovChrisSununu statement following the release of the latest @NHHouseGOP congressional map #NH01 #NH02 #NHPolitics #WMURpic.twitter.com/4zLpjkOWoT— Adam Sexton (@Adam Sexton) 1650919732
The governor and legislators have until late May to work out a compromise. If they do not, the state Supreme Court will appoint a special master to draw a final map.
The deadline for candidates to file to run in the state is June 10. The primary will be held Sept. 13.
Republicans are at a similar impasse in Missouri, where the chambers have been unable to agree on how big an advantage to give their party for the next decade.
The congressional delegation is currently split 6-2 in favor of the GOP, and the first map passed by the state House in January would have maintained that margin. However, the Senate pushed back and wants to move another seat into the Republican column.
After rounds of negotiations, the Senate passed a new map in late March but the House would not approve it and now the two chambers cannot agree to schedule a conference committee to work out the differences.
The filing deadline was March 29 and the primary is scheduled for July 6. Barring a quick resolution, lawsuits seem likely.
Back to the drawing board
Democratic-controlled New York seemed to have finished its congressional redistricting process Feb. 3, when Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the new map into law. That map was drawn by legislators after a redistricting commission designed to remove elected officials from the process broke down under the weight of partisan fighting.
But two courts determined that the map, which would increase the Democrats’ margin of control in the delegation, is an illegal partisan gerrymander. The state Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the case Tuesday and could rule this week on whether to reinstate the approved map or to require new lines be drawn.
Three alternative maps have already been submitted – one by the Republican plaintiffs, another from a New York nonprofit and a third by a lawyer.
The candidate filing deadline has already passed (April 7) and the primary is scheduled for June 28.
The new congressional map has also been overturned in Kansas, where a county judge ruled on Monday that the Republican-approved map is unfair to Democrats and people of color and therefore violates the state Constitution. The map, if allowed to stand, would likely increase the GOP’s chances of winning the sole district currently controlled by Democrats.
While the court has ordered legislators to draw a new map, the state attorney general has vowed to appeal the ruling.
The candidate filing deadline is June 1 for the Aug. 2 primary.
On Friday, DeSantis signed the bill to make his congressional map official. That same day, a collection of voting rights organizations and individual voters filed a lawsuit claiming the new district lines violate the state Constitution.
In 2010, Florida voters approved a “Fair District” amendment that empowers minority voters to be able to select their representatives. DeSantis’ map breaks up a district currently represented by Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat. The plaintiffs also argue the map violates state prohibitions on partisan gerrymandering.
A lawsuit is also pending in Ohio, where Democrats are fighting a Republican-approved map. However, that case will not be heard in time to affect the 2022 elections.
A Republican-led lawsuit in New Mexico has become stalled, and a lawyer for the state party recently asked for a judge to be appointed so it can move forward.
The Loyola Law School is tracking these and other lawsuits.
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