This is your weekly roundup of voting rights stories we’re watching, published every Monday.
SCOTUS WATCH: We’re still waiting on the Supreme Court to decide whether a citizenship question can stay on the 2020 census. That ruling is likely coming this week. But in the meantime, the plaintiffs in the Maryland case challenging the question convinced a judge he needs to rethink his finding that the question wasn’t added with a discriminatory intent. That decision comes after the plaintiffs put forward new evidence suggesting that the question, in fact, was. Ultimately, it will be up to the 4th Circuit, where the Maryland case has been appealed, to decide how that issue is handled.
We’re also waiting on decisions in two partisan gerrymandering cases, one from Maryland and the other from North Carolina.
The Hofeller File Fallout Continues: Republicans are really unhappy that voting rights groups now have their hands on files from the GOP’s go-to gerrymandering guru, who died last year, and they are going absolutely H.A.M. to try to get those files back. The North Carolina GOP legislature has accused Thomas Hofeller’s daughter of committing larceny in its effort to block a voting rights group’s access to the files as part of a gerrymandering lawsuit. The Justice Department jumped on the filing to argue Hofeller’s files should also be disregarded in the Maryland census case.
Mixed week for AVR: Proponents of automatic voter registration can add one victory and one setback to their tally sheet
- Maine’s governor signed an AVR bill Wednesday.
- New York’s legislature adjourned Friday without final passage of an AVR bill previously approved by the Senate. A typo found in the bill prompted its removal from the floor.
- Two dozen states had AVR bills introduced in their legislatures this year.
Wisconsin Supreme Court OKs GOP’s Lame-Duck Power Grab: In an opinion that was not exactly a surprise, but still a bummer for those who believe legislatures should respect the choices of their electorate, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed lower court decisions blocking laws that the Republican legislature hurriedly passed in a lame-duck session right before the state’s incoming Democratic governor was sworn. Some of the laws that now have been reinstated specifically sought to undermine the incoming administration by limiting the power of the executive branch and increasing the power of the state legislature.
Anti-Student Shenanigans in Florida: After a court blocked Florida’s move to ban early voting on college campuses, the GOP is trying to go after the student vote again by using parking regulations in a provision tucked in elections legislation the governor is considering signing. (The bill states that early voting locations “must provide sufficient nonpermitted parking to accommodate the anticipated amount of voters.” Many college campuses struggle with inadequate parking, and require parking permits.) Per court records, some 60,000 ballots were cast in 2018 at the college early voting sites the state had previously tried to outlaw.
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