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States grapple with compressed redistricting timelines

A lawsuit filed this week over Illinois' new legislative district lines is a preview of what's sure to be a litigious and tense second half of the year for mapmakers.

While Illinois has made more progress than most states, the redistricting process in the Prairie State is far from over. Full census data has not yet been released due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, many states are facing impossible redistricting deadlines — some of them constitutionally mandated. If adjustments aren't made soon, courts will have to step in and draw temporary maps for upcoming elections.

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Voting rights advocates gather outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday for a rally in support of the For the People Act.

West Virginia voting rights advocates turn up heat on Manchin

Since proclaiming his opposition to the For the People Act, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has drawn a lot of ire from voting rights advocates, including some from his home state of West Virginia.

Former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and five other West Virginia advocates vowed during a press call Wednesday to keep the pressure on Manchin in the coming weeks. The the sweeping election reform bill is scheduled to be brought to the Senate floor later this month.

In an opinion piece published over the weekend, Manchin did not say he was opposed to specific elements of the For the People Act. Rather, he said he wouldn't vote for the bill unless Republicans were also on board — a nearly impossible standard. The moderate Democrat also reaffirmed his opposition to weakening or eliminating the filibuster, dealing another critical blow to the bill's chances of success.

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Vermont will soon send all registered voters a mail-in ballot ahead of general elections.

Vermont sets bipartisan example for expanding vote by mail

While much of the country's election reform legislation has been rife with partisanship, Vermont is bucking that trend.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed into law on Monday a measure that will automatically send Vermont's 495,000 registered voters a mail-in ballot ahead of statewide general elections. The General Assembly approved the legislation on a bipartisan basis last month.

Vermont's collaborative effort to expand voting access stands in stark relief from other states in which Democrats and Republicans are pushing opposing agendas. Following the 2020 election, Democrats have largely advocated for voting easements, whereas Republicans have backed restrictive measures.

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Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he would not support the For the People Act, nor would he vote to eliminate the filibuster.

Manchin deals critical blow to election reform legislation

When Sen. Joe Manchin announced Sunday he would not vote in favor of the For the People Act, he dealt another critical blow to his party's sweeping election overhaul legislation. But reformers haven't given up hope.

Manchin put the focus squarely on the partisan divide: Democrats are pushing the legislation without any support from Republicans.

"Unfortunately, we now are witnessing that the fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized," Manchin wrote in an op-ed for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. "As such, congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials."

Democracy reform advocates lambasted Manchin for focusing on the legislative process, rather than the substance of the bill. While his opposition creates a huge barrier for their cause, advocates remain determined to get the For the People Act across the finish line.

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