Redistricting Goes into Overtime in Ohio ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 
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[Redistricting Roundup]
The State of Play
Redistricting is entering its final stretch. As of February 1, a total of 32 states had passed new congressional maps and 33 states had passed state legislative maps, though in two states, Ohio and Alabama, courts have ordered congressional maps to be redrawn. Ohio’s legislative maps also have been redrawn under court order and are currently being reviewed by the state supreme court.
The Brennan Center has two trackers you can use to keep up with the redistricting cycle. Our Redistricting Map Tracker contains links to all of the newly passed maps while our Redistricting Litigation Roundup outlines the legal cases pending over new plans. All told, 44 cases around the country are challenging newly passed congressional or legislative maps as racially discriminatory or partisan gerrymanders — or both.
Featured Pieces
Redistricting Goes into Overtime in Ohio
Republicans aren’t giving up on their attempts to gerrymander Ohio. Last month the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the state’s gerrymandered legislative maps that were challenged in a series of lawsuits, including one brought by the Brennan Center on behalf of community organizations and voters. The state’s redistricting commission then had 10 days to pass new maps, but instead of coming to a bipartisan compromise, the maps were minimally changed and passed once again on a party-line vote. Voters and groups challenging the original plans have filed objections to the new plans.
In a blog post, the Brennan Center’s Harry Black, Yurij Rudensky, and Alicia Bannon write that the commission was “trying to slap some paint on what amounts to a broken foundation.” They explain: “The facts are clear: the new maps were drawn by Republican map drawers and passed on party lines. To purportedly achieve ‘proportionality’ in the Ohio House of Representatives, as required by the state constitution, the commission converted Republican districts into razor-thin Democratic ones while leaving Republicans in safe seats. All told, 14 Democratic seats are toss-up districts while zero Republican-leaning districts fall into the same category.”
If the court finds that the redrawn maps also violate the state constitution, the redistricting commission will once again reconvene to draw a third set of maps. You can read more about the Brennan Center’s involvement in the fight for fair legislative maps in Ohio here.
Documents Reveal Trump Administration’s ‘Unprecedented’ Attempts to Influence 2020 Census
Documents and correspondence obtained from a lawsuit filed by the Brennan Center under the Freedom of Information Act regarding the 2020 Census reveal the full extent of the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine a fair count. The documents show that political appointees ignored the protestations of career Census Bureau officials and that many more states agreed to share citizenship data with the Trump administration than had previously been reported.
Brennan Center senior counsel Kelly Percival writes, “These FOIA results show just how fragile the census process is. It took timely litigation, advocacy, and career Census Bureau officials pushing back at political interference to ensure that the 2020 Census did not fail … In the meantime, it’s time to start thinking about what guardrails should be put in place to protect future censuses from reaching the brink of disaster.”
You can read more about the Brennan Center’s lawsuit to obtain these documents here.
Featured Maps
The congressional map proposed by New York Democratic legislators would dramatically alter the state’s political geography, with Rep. Claudia Tenney’s (R-New Hartford) district serving as an illustrative example.
In the current map (left), the heavily Democratic city of Utica is included in Tenney’s Upstate district (NY-22), which was one of the most competitive districts in the country in 2020. By contrast, in the redrawn map (right), the district is surgically dismantled with Utica and much of NY-22 combined with more Democratic-leaning areas closer to New York City to create a district (NY-19) that would have supported President Biden by 10 points. In response to the proposed plan, Rep. Tenney has decided to run in a Republican-leaning district anchored in western New York, though that has led to accusations of carpetbagging.
Redistricting in the News
In a new piece for The Guardian, Michael Harriot writes that, despite claims to the contrary, new redistricting plans devised by Republicans across the country revolve around race, not politics. He writes, “For years, there has been a subtle campaign to redefine racism by the intent and not the effects of discriminatory actions. According to this new American translation, disenfranchising entire communities by suppressing their voting power is not necessarily racist as long as the person didn’t mean to be racist.”
The North Carolina Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday morning on the state’s new congressional and legislative redistricting plans. Advocacy groups and voters allege that the plans violate the state constitution because they heavily favor Republican candidates. The court is expected to rule quickly on whether it has the authority to order new plans.
Alabama is appealing a lower federal court’s decision to block its new congressional plan to the U.S. Supreme Court. The three-judge lower court, which included two Trump appointees, found that Alabama’s congressional map violated the rights of Black voters because it did not include a second Black opportunity district. The case is the first redistricting case to reach the Supreme Court this cycle.
A prominent Republican Texas state senator has admitted that the newly drawn Senate District 10 in the Fort Worth area violates the Voting Rights Act because it was drawn to include Black and Latino voters in a whiter, more rural district to dilute their voting power. The sworn declaration from Sen. Seliger (R- Amarillo) was brought to light as a three-judge panel considers challenges to Texas’s enacted plans. His statement contradicts those of redistricting committee chair, who has repeatedly insisted that the maps were drawn “race-blind.”
Read more from the Brennan Center on how SD-10 disempowers communities of color here.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has vetoed the congressional map submitted by the state legislature, meaning that the courts will ultimately decide the new district lines. The state supreme court has ordered a lower court judge to serve as a special master and submit a report with her redistricting recommendations by February 7. The court will hear oral arguments over the special master's report on February 16.
Tennessee’s new congressional map is expected to soon be signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee (R), meaning that Nashville, the state’s largest city, will be split among three districts. Incumbent Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) has said he will not run for reelection because he was, “gerrymandered out of a congressional seat.” Critics of the plan also claim that it constitutes a racial gerrymander because it divides Nashville’s Black communities.
New York Democrats have released their congressional redistricting proposal after the state’s redistricting commission failed to agree on a redistricting plan. Because of the deadlock, responsibility for map drawing has shifted to Democratic legislators, who hold a supermajority in both houses for the first time in decades. Their plan has already triggered sharp allegations of partisan gerrymandering for cutting the number of Republican-leaning districts in half, from eight to four.
In some parts of the country, communities of color are struggling to gain a seat at the table. But in other places, map drawers are being responsive to demographic change, creating more electoral opportunities for communities of color that have previously been shut out of power. In California, the Orange County Board of Supervisors map includes a Latino-majority district for the first time. The new district has opened a door for Garden Grove City Councilwoman Kim Nguyen, a self-proclaimed “Vietxican” to run to become Orange County’s first Latina supervisor. Nguyen is no stranger to new opportunities. She was first elected to the Garden Grove City Council after its at-large districts were struck down by a court in 2016 and replaced with single-member districts.
You can find earlier editions of our Redistricting Roundup here.