Elections

In a proactive effort to defend election integrity during the 2018 midterms where 435 House seats will be up for election, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is putting cyber security experts on-the-ground to vet election systems in states that voluntarily sign up for the service.

CSG Midwest
A redrawing of the nation’s political maps is still three years away, but 2018 might someday be remembered as a year that changed how redistricting itself is done. If so, some states in the Midwest will be a big part of that story.
In Ohio and Michigan, voters may have the chance in the coming months to decide the fate of their states’ respective redistricting processes. The U.S. Supreme Court, meanwhile, has taken on a case that centers on the current Wisconsin Assembly map and that raises questions about the constitutionality, and future, of partisan gerrymandering around the country.
Legislatures themselves, too, continue to consider making changes of their own.

What if a district court adopts a redistricting plan and the state legislature later codifies that plan. May the same district court later rule the redistricting plan is unlawful and/or unconstitutional? That is what the Supreme Court will decide in Abbott v. Perez.

A number of persons and advocacy groups challenged the Texas Legislature’s 2011 state legislative and congressional redistricting plan claiming it discriminated against black and Hispanic voters in violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act.

A three-judge district court issued a remedial redistricting plan which the U.S. Supreme Court vacated in 2012. The district court then drew another remedial redistricting plan called plan C235. In plan C235 the court reconfigured nine challenged districts from the legislature’s 2011 plan but retained two districts, CD27 and CD35, without reconfiguration. In 2013 the state legislature ultimately adopted plan C235.        

In ealry January a three-judge federal court struck down North Carolina’s 2016 Congressional redistricting plan concluding it was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander designed to favor Republican candidates. Meanwhile the Supreme Court has agreed to decide two cases this term involving the question of whether and when partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. Read more about the North Carolina case and the lower court ruling here.

The federal court ordered the state legislature to come up with a new plan by January 24. The Supreme Court put that order on hold allowing the Republican legislators defending the plan to appeal to the Supreme Court.

On last Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Husted v. Philip Roth Institute case involving maintaining voter rolls and removing ineligible voters in Ohio.

When a three-judge panel struck down North Carolina’s 2016 Congressional redistricting plan the case received significant media attention. Supreme Court redistricting cases rarely receive as much fanfare.

The decision garnered so much attention because it is the third three-judge panel in a relatively short period of time to rule a partisan gerrymander is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has yet to articulate if and exactly when redistricting in favor of a political party is unconstitutional. But such a ruling may be imminent. The Supreme Court has already heard a case from Wisconsin and will hear a case from Maryland this term involving the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering.

Arizona kicked off 2018 with all 15 counties reaching a unanimous agreement to participate in the Electronic Registration Information Center, more commonly known as ERIC.

The Council of State Governments convened its final meeting of the organization’s CSG Overseas Voting Initiative, or OVI, in Las Vegas last week culminating with a presentation to CSG’s national membership and the release of two major reports that detail best practices and associated case study materials resulting from the past three years of research by CSG, and its Technology Working Group, on ways technology can potentially advance military and overseas voting.

The Council of State Governments will host its 2017 National Conference from December 14th-16th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The meeting will offer engaging policy sessions geared toward state officials in all three branches of government. To access copies of speaker presentations, please visit the individual session pages below.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) recently released research introducing the “UOCAVA Gap,” a new and more effective metric that examines the effect of voting obstacles faced by Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) active duty military (ADM) members. Trends in the UOCAVA Gap suggest that, despite fluctuations in the ADM participation rate, overall UOCAVA obstacles to voting have been relatively stable from 2010 to 2016.

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