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Beyond Virginia, pushes against gerrymandering in several states

Update: The Virginia House cleared the measure Friday night, 54 to 46, assuring a statewide referendum vote in November.

While the world of democracy reform holds its collective breath about Virginia, which is just one day from a do-or-don't deadline for ending partisan gerrymandering, campaigns to combat such behavior got underway this week in two more states.

The way political district boundaries get drawn has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, with a steadily expanding campaign to give the task to independent outsiders rather than politicians interested only in preserving their own power. This spring's census, which will provide the population numbers mapmakers must use, has magnified the issue yet again.

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Virginia is likely to hand over the redistricting authority to an independent commission in 2021.

Virginia redistricting reform now on course for voters' choice

After a year of anticipation and consternation, Virginians now appear almost certain to be asked to vote this fall on turning legislative mapmaking over to more outsiders instead of the partisans whose political fortunes depend on the lines.

The state House is on course to vote before its scheduled adjournment Saturday on a proposal to turn redistricting over to an independent commission next year, when the lines for the General Assembly and 11 congressional districts will be repositioned for a decade in light of this year's census.

Passage would put the proposed amendment to the state Constitution on the November ballot, where it would be favored to pass — the biggest potential victory this year for those who say partisan gerrymandering is one of American democracy's biggest problems.

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Deadly storms swept through Tennessee last night and left residents with worries other than voting.

Severe weather, virus worries disrupt the gears of democracy on Super Tuesday

Deadly storms in at least two Super Tuesday states and coronavirus anxieties nationwide are complicating efforts to boost turnout and ease confidence in the results from the nation's most important day of voting ahead of November.

Efforts to get democracy working more smoothly are almost always focused on human behavior, from making it easier for people to vote to rewarding collaboration among partisan politicians. This time, unpredictably treacherous weather and the unpredictable spread of disease are conspiring to make things much more difficult for Democrats casting ballots to award a third of their presidential delegates.

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Missouri, Kentucky move forward on tough voter ID laws

Two more solidly red states are moving closer this week to enacting a photo ID requirement for voting starting this fall.

The Republican-majority state House in Missouri gave initial approval to such a bill Wednesday. The GOP state House in Kentucky is expected to clear a measure by Friday, with enough votes to override a potential veto.

Only 18 states now require people to present an identification card with a picture on it at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and such rules have become one of the more highly contentious parts of the democracy reform debate in recent years.

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