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A gerrymandering dirty dozen: The House’s worst districts

News

A gerrymandering dirty dozen: What experts see as the House’s worst districts

How do you know when you've seen a gerrymandered district? Maybe it looks like a duck or a snake, or a pair of earmuffs. Or maybe there's no obvious sign that the mapmakers played games with the contours in order to ensure a particular electoral outcome inside those boundaries.

The last contests using the current set of congressional maps are a year away. After that, the results of the 2020 census will be used for the redistricting of the entire country — assuring a fresh burst of gerrymandering by politicians with the power to draw maps designed for keeping themselves in power. (The North Carolina districts mentioned below are very likely to get altered before the next election, however, to settle a lawsuit alleging the current map favors Republicans so much as to violate the state Constitution's "fair elections" clause.)

We asked half a dozen people who have studied the way American political maps are drawn to reveal their best examples of the most flagrant current gerrymandering. Of course there are plenty of ways to approach that task. In some cases, the really odd shapes make it easier. In others, experts need to dive deep into demographic data to discover the most egregious examples of packing and cracking.

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State lawmakers take up the fight for an Election Day holiday

Congress may have given up on making Election Day a national holiday, but state lawmakers may have just begun their fight.

The catch-all reform bill passed earlier this year by the House of Representatives originally included language to make Election Day a national holiday. But even before the bill died on the steps of the Senate, House members stripped out that language.

But advocates for the cause can look to the statehouses, which are considering related legislation in record numbers.

In 2019, lawmakers in 23 states filed 47 bills related to Election Day holidays, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures and additional reporting.

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Trump likely to win tax returns fight in California, but battles continue elsewhere

The legal battle to pry loose President Trump's tax returns appears to be headed to defeat in the California Supreme Court, while numerous other efforts continue to move forward.

According to reporting by the Sacramento Bee, a majority of the justices on Wednesday appeared to side with Republicans challenging the new state law that would force Trump to release the last five years of his tax returns in order to get on the 2020 primary ballot.

During oral arguments, several of the justices aggressively questioned an attorney representing Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

"Where does it end? Do we get all high school report cards?" asked Justice Ming Chin, according to the Bee.

If the court strikes down the law (it has 90 days to reach a decision), the state could still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Debate

Could President Trump be impeached and convicted – but also reelected?

"So even if President Trump were impeached and convicted, there is the possibility that he could be reelected to the same office from which he had been removed," writes Austin Sarat of Amherst College.

Community

National Civic Saturday – Oklahoma City

Civic Saturday is a gathering of friends and strangers in a common place to nurture a spirit of shared purpose. Join Citizen University on Nov. 16 to reflect and connect around the values and practices of being an active citizen, reckon with and reflect on our nation's creed, and build civic fellowship to create new civic traditions that are joyful and communal.

Don't forget to join The Fulcrum tomorrow for our first Ask Me Anything at 1 pm Eastern on Reddit.
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Congress
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Republican Tom Graves (left) and Democrat Derek Kilmer lead the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, which demonstrated unanimous support for all of its proposal to the full House of Representatives.

Panel charged with fixing Congress is given another year to try

The House has rewarded its special "fix Congress committee" for its wholly bipartisan and relatively productive first year by extending its life for another year, giving the panel time to tackle some of the more contentious problems on its watch list.

With polarization, dysfunction and gridlock now Capitol Hill's three defining characteristics, the panel was created in January to set the stage for different behaviors to germinate — by proposing how the House could become a more efficient, transparent and up-to-date place for members to pass bills and conduct oversight, and for staffers to help them.

The idea is that it's essential for Congress to get back some of the capacity, stature and muscle ceded in recent decades to the president and the courts — and thereby recalibrate the balance of powers at the heart of a thriving federal republic.

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Residents of Texas may register to vote when they apply for or renew a driver's license in person, but not online. A lawsuit that had been intended to change that was thrown out by an appeals court.

Online voter registration ban in Texas survives in federal court

A federal appeals court has blocked a lower court ruling that had opened the door to online voter registration in Texas.

The decision is a setback for advocates of easing access to the ballot box. They contend the nation's second-most-populous (and increasingly purple) state is being improperly strict in its interpretation of a federal law requiring states to give residents an opportunity to register when they apply for or renew driver's licenses.

But the ruling is not necessarily the final word on easing voter registration in Texas.

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