Maps, Maps, and More Maps

As we told you before we went on hiatus, the district maps for both state legislative and Congressional seats have been the topics of hot debate this year. Both sets of district maps have been challenged in court by groups alleging that they were crafted in a partisan manner with the goal of benefitting the Republican Party. While each side has asserted their rationale, the courts have generally sided that the maps were gerrymandered in a partisan way and have ordered that the maps be redrawn.

Prior to adjourning their session in early October, legislators convened a robust, data-driven process to redraw the state’s legislative maps. This included employing mathematicians to draw a multitude of map options and even bringing in a certified lottery ball machine to allow for the process to be random. Following the approval of these maps by legislators, they were given signoff by the courts. Though there was an additional challenge to a couple of the proposed districts, that case was not allowed to move forward meaning that the approved maps will be in place for the 2020 elections.  We will provide some resources to determine your district in Section 2.

At the same time, a similar challenge was levied against the state’s thirteen Congressional district maps. The legislature employed a different procedure for determining these maps than what was used in the state legislative map drawing, raising concerns from members of the minority party that legislative leadership was trying to preserve the Republican dominance in the Congressional delegation (currently 10 seats to 3 seats majority [Democrat/Republican]). While these maps were given approval by the General Assembly, the courts have yet to sign-off. On Wednesday, the courts entered an injunction delaying filing for any of the Congressional seats until after they have a chance to review the proposal. Filing was expected to commence at noon on December 2, the same day as the court will consider the maps.

Here are the top-line points:

1)      The maps for the state’s legislative and Congressional districts were challenged in court on the basis that they were gerrymandered by the Republican majority of the General Assembly in a partisan manner.

2)      Both sets of maps were redrawn and approved by the General Assembly.

3)      The courts have signed off on the state legislative maps but have delayed approval of the Congressional maps until after a December 2 hearing.

4)      Filing for state legislative races may commence on December 2 but filing for Congressional races is enjoined until after the court rules on those maps.

5)     While it is not yet known, it is possible that primary elections may be pushed back, at least for Congressional elections, from the current March 3 date if Congressional maps aren’t approved with enough time.

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