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How census delays could impact redistricting timelines

At this time in a normal redistricting year, states would already be drawing the lines for the next decade's election maps. But delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have upended many states' timelines.

The Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal public policy institute at New York University Law School, released a 27-page report Thursday providing a state-by-state assessment of how these delays could impact the redistricting process.

While the delays were necessary, the report notes that as of mid-April many states had yet to update their redistricting deadlines to account for a more compressed timeline. If adjustments aren't made, courts may need to step in and create temporary maps for upcoming elections.

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N.M. Legislature gets behind only partial mapmaking independence

In a state like New Mexico — with single-party control of government and no independent redistricting commission — gerrymandering is almost a foregone conclusion. But a newly passed bill aims to curb partisan manipulation of election maps in the Land of Enchantment.

In the early hours of Saturday, the last day of New Mexico's legislative session, lawmakers gave final approval to an advisory redistricting commission. Although the measure is not as potent as reform advocates wanted, it could open the door for more comprehensive changes later on.

States are awaiting the final, delayed numbers from the 2020 census so they can begin the redistricting process in time for the next round of elections. Twenty-one states will have Republicans controlling the process, while nine, including New Mexico, will have Democrats in charge. The remaining 20 states either have a divided government or some type of fully independent redistricting commission.

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Mapmaking commission effort comes up way short in Nevada

Nevada will remain a state where politicians get to draw the election boundaries they run in. Advocates for turning the mapmaking over to an independent panel have conceded defeat.

Fair Maps Nevada announced Tuesday it was able to collect only 12,000 of the 98,000 signatures required to get their proposal on the November ballot, giving up a week ahead of the deadline. The group said it was stymied by the social distancing and safety protocols mandated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Assigning independent commissions to draw congressional and legislative district lines, instead of the state legislators themselves, is widely regarded as the best way to combat partisan gerrymandering. This year's election is effectively the last chance for states to make the switch in time for the maps being drawn for the next decade.

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Redistricting reformers to Oregon voters: You've got mail

In keeping with social distancing mandates, crusaders against partisan gerrymandering in Oregon have settled on a new old-fashioned way to recruit allies: Send a letter, by snail mail.

With the coronavirus pandemic ruling out traditional in-person canvassing across the country, many grassroots democracy efforts have gone silent — some after failing to get permission to obtain electronic signatures for their ballot measures.

Redistricting reformers in Oregon aren't going down the online route. Instead they are mailing copies of their ballot proposal, which would turn legislative mapmaking over to an independent redistricting commission, to half a million residential addresses in search of handwritten endorsements.

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