When getting a say on the issue of partisan gerrymandering, voters across the country have spoken loud and clear: They are tired of it. In recent years, several ballot initiatives have passed with broad support that would result in the creation of fair maps.
The latest example of this is Illinois: Fair maps advocates filed a proposed amendment to the state constitution. The proposal, known as the Fair Maps Amendment, would create an independent redistricting commission and allow public comment on a final map for 30 days. (read more)
The Battle for Fair Maps: Ballot initiatives are an important tool for voters when lawmakers fail to take action. However, a troubling trend is emerging: Republican-controlled legislatures are working hard to delay or rewrite fair-maps proposals that have overwhelming support.
In Missouri, voters opted for an independent redistricting commission. Republican State Senator Dan Hegeman, however, introduced a bill to reverse the amendment and keep the current bipartisan commission in place — and voters are not keeping quiet. It’s “reversing the will of the voters,” said Marilyn McLeod, president of the League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County, MO.
Advocates are also gearing up for a lengthy court battle in Michigan after the state Republican party filed a lawsuit over how “independent” the commission must be.
Should that include a ban on former lobbyists, lawmakers, and their staff? Well, the constitutional amendment that passed in Michigan would, and that appears to not sit well with Republicans and their allies. (read more)
It’s not just Missouri and Michigan, either. Colorado, Ohio, and Utah voters passed similar ballot initiatives in 2018. And in Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed an executive order that will create an independent redistricting commission after the 2020 census results are in. It will be interesting to see whether the Republican-controlled legislature will use the commission because, under Wisconsin law, the state legislature has control of redistricting. (read more)
Under Hot Water: It looks like more bad news is coming out of Missouri for Republican officials. The Missouri Ethics Commission hit former Gov. Eric Greitens (R) with a hefty fine for a host of campaign finance violations. Greitens was fined $178,000, but if he pays at least $38,000 of it, then the rest can be forgiven.
But what does that mean for future violations? The option to not have to pay the fine in its entirety highlights the dysfunction and lack of clarity in campaign finance.
The government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint in 2018 against Greitens with the Federal Election Commission, but because the agency still doesn’t have a quorum to vote on enforcement measures, it’s unlikely that a punishment is coming. (read more)
Indian Country Fights for the Right to Vote: One of the most common barriers to voting for Native Americans throughout the country is voter ID laws. More often than not, tribal communities lack street addresses and rely on PO boxes to receive mail. It can make voting impossible for tribal communities in a voter ID state.
But thanks to a legal settlement last week, Native Americans in North Dakota should be able to cast a ballot without presenting an identification card with a street address. The proposed settlement would go like this: 30 days before an election, the secretary of state will coordinate with the state Department of Transportation and tribal governments to issue tribal ID cards with photo identification for free. (read more)
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