Progressive group's final indictment of gerrymandering cites harsh voting laws
Manipulating district lines is just one way politicians stay in power. Another is by making it harder for the electorate to vote them out. A new report by a liberal think tank concludes that partisan gerrymandered legislatures have led to more voting restrictions — "a power grab on top of a power grab."
The Center for American Progress study, released Wednesday, found that Republicans in four states used map-guaranteed statehouse majorities to enact voting restriction (such as photo ID laws) and block easements to the ballot box (like longer early voting periods) — efforts that have proven particularly burdensome for communities of color, which usually vote Democratic.
The report is the fourth and final in a series designed to show why the cause of redistricting reform — turning district map drawing over to independent commissions — should be more of a priority for the left. The first, in December, blamed partisan gerrymandering for an absence of new gun controls this decade. The others cited the system for limiting Medicaid expansions and curtailing government spending on child care and education.
A Montana judge has blocked new state restrictions on the collecting of others' ballots, a victory for Native American tribes that say their members rely on the help.
The law probably violates the tribal members' right to vote because it would make it especially difficult for them to make sure their own ballots got from reservations and other remote areas to election offices, District Judge Jessica Fehr of Yellowstone County said Tuesday in putting a hold on the requirements.
Her injunction, while not final, is nonetheless the latest voting rights victory for people in Indian Country, who say too many election rules disregard their special circumstances and amount to suppression. It's also the latest turn in the generally partisan battle over so-called ballot harvesting.
When it comes to elections during the pandemic, Kentucky has stood apart in two ways. It instituted one of the nation's most restrictive voter identification laws just as the coronavirus was shutting government offices that issue ID cards, but its leaders also cut an unusual bipartisan deal resulting in one of the smoothest vote-by-mail primaries so far.
A civil rights group has now sued to make the state abandon that first move, but stick with the second, at least through the November election.
Filed Tuesday in state court, the lawsuit comes early in what's likely to become a flood of litigation to make voting for president easy and safe this fall. While most states have made accommodations for their primaries, they have not done so for the general election.
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The ruling addressed a pretty narrow flaw in the system, argues Austin Sarat of Amherst College.
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