While congressional Republicans remain overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, opposed to the For the People Act, a new survey found strong bipartisan backing for the wide-ranging bill that would set new standards for elections.
The survey — conducted by Data for Progress, a progressive think tank and polling firm, for Vox — found that 69 percent of Americans strongly or somewhat support the bill when told it would "make it easier to vote, limit the influence of money in politics, and require congressional districts to be drawn by a non-partisan commission so that no one party has an advantage." That breaks down as 85 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans. (Note that voter ID and so-called ballot harvesting, among the most partisan elements of election administration, were not mentioned.)
No Republican voted in favor of the bill, also known as HR 1, when Democrats pushed it through the House of Representatives, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans have vowed to block its passage in the Senate. Republicans say the legislation would damage election security while Democrats claim it would make elections more fair.
Pollsters broke the bill down into a handful of its major components to gauge support for individual provisions, some of which were heavily backed by all three political groupings. For example, limiting the influence of money in politics was supported by 86 percent of Democrats, 87 percent of independents and 80 percent of Republicans. Modernizing election infrastructure to increase security had similar numbers (90/83/77), as did preventing foreign interference in elections (85/82/82).
Support for a 15-day early voting period and nonpartisan redistricting commissions both received more than 50 percent support across all three categories as well.
A handful of other proposals did not crack 50 percent among Republicans.
- Automatic voter registration: 81 percent Democrats, 59 percent independents, 44 percent Republicans.
- Same-day voter registration for eligible voters: 84/49/49.
- A vote-by-mail option for all voters: 84/64/38.
- Restoring voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences: 72/54/39.
- Limiting voter roll purges: 73/51/48.
Again, voter ID and collecting ballots on behalf of voters were not among the topics queried.
The pollsters also asked respondents about replacing the current system of drawing congressional districts with a proportional representation system in which each state's U.S. House delegation would be based on the statewide vote share. Just over half of all respondents said they would support such a system, including 63 percent of Democrats, 50 percent of independents and 41 percent of Republicans.
But when more context was added to the question, opinions shifted.
In one version, respondents were told: "Some lawmakers in Congress are considering changing Senate procedure to allow for this proposal to pass with 51 votes, rather than 60 votes, meaning Democrats could pass the bill without support from Republicans." Asked how they felt about changing Senate procedures to pass the bill, overall support dropped 4 points to 47 percent. Democratic support rose, while backing among Republicans and independents dropped significantly.
In another question about the proportional representation plan, questioners said, "Supporters of this say we should create these standards so that everyone's vote can count equally and no one party has an advantage over the other in drawing district lines, making our elections fairer. Opponents of this say that it is a power grab by politicians who want to pick their voters rather than the other way around."
When faced with this language, 70 percent of Democrats voiced support, as did 50 percent of independents. But only a third of Republicans backed the proposal.
The survey was conducted April 16-19 of 1,138 likely voters with a margin of error of 3 percentage points. See the full results here.
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As states begin to map out congressional and legislative district lines based on the new census data, the topic of gerrymandering will take center stage in the coming weeks.
With that in mind, we wanted to share this satirical two-minute video, "Save The Gerrymanderers," courtesy of RepresentUs. The video features actor Ed Helms from "The Office" as he highlights the serious threat gerrymanderingposes to voters nationwide.
Ed Helms: Gerrymandering is like... really bad www.youtube.com
RepresentUs is the nation's largest grassroots anti-corruption campaign, bringing together conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between to pass anti-corruption laws in cities and states to stop political bribery, end secret money, and fix our broken elections.
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Now that the Census Bureau has finally announced which states have gained or lost congressional seats, attention turns to the legislative bodies and commissions that will be drawing new maps for the next round of elections.
We already know the delayed data release is having an impact on states' abilities to meet their own deadlines for drawing new maps. It's only going to get more complicated as lawsuits are filed and more data becomes available.
Here are five stories you should read (or watch) to get up to speed (besides The Fulcrum's own reporting, of course).
Explainer: The proposals to keep Ohio's redistricting process on track (News 5 Cleveland)
New York Faces Likely Congressional Redistricting Fight After Latest U.S. Census (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
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Hours after new redistricting data was released by the Census Bureau, lawsuits were filed Monday night to toss out expired election maps in three states.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who heads the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, and prominent Democratic voting rights lawyer Marc Elias filed the suits in federal and state courts on behalf of voters in Louisiana, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. They argue that population changes over the last decade have rendered the current maps unconstitutional.
Because these states have divided governments, it's likely that partisan disputes will prevent them from agreeing on new election maps in time for the 2022 midterms. The litigation was filed in anticipation of an impasse and with the hopes of expediting court-drawn maps.
Both Louisiana, with six congressional seats, and Pennsylvania, with 18 congressional seats, have Democratic governors and Republican-majority legislatures. Minnesota (eight congressional seats) has a Democratic governor and state House but a Republican state Senate.
Pennsylvania was the only state of the three to lose a House seat after the Census Bureau reported the new state population counts Monday afternoon.
Due to population shifts over the past decade, the lawsuits argue, the states' congressional maps have been rendered malapportioned and are therefore unconstitutional. The suits seek to prevent the states from using the current maps in any future elections. They also ask the courts to mandate the implementation of new maps that adhere to the "one person, one vote" constitutional requirement, in the event that the legislature and governor fail to agree on maps.
During a press call on Tuesday, Holder linked the GOP-led efforts across the country to roll back voting access to the partisan gerrymandering that will inevitably take place this year.
"What we're facing right now is a Republican Party that has shown that they're willing to bend or break the rules of democracy, simply to hold on to power," he said. "I have no doubt that the same Republican legislators who have pushed these bills will now try to use the redistricting process to illegitimately lock in power."
The goal of the litigation filed this week, Holder said, is to protect the integrity of the redistricting process and ensure fair maps and representation across the country.
Elias, who will be litigating the cases, said these redistricting lawsuits won't be the last filed this year. In addition to these three states, there are six more with divided governments and no independent redistricting commissions, so disagreements over election maps are likely to occur.
"We are prepared and ready to use every legal tool available to make sure that new maps do not unfairly treat voters," Elias said. "These lawsuits ensure that there is a backstop if and when the normal process breaks down or if there is a deadlock between the legislature and the governor which is more than likely going to be the case."
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