All posts by Justin Levitt

Cal. Supreme Court decides CVRA case

The California Supreme Court is out with an important opinion today in Pico Neighborhood Ass’n v. City of Santa Monica: a ruling on the California Voting Rights Act and some of the ways in which it’s distinct from (and similar to) the federal VRA.

Most of the issues addressed by the court are, I believe, issues of first impression for a state supreme court construing a state voting rights act. That includes whether the Gingles 1 requirement (showing that the minority population is big enough and compact enough to constitute more than half of the voters in a single-member district) applies to the CVRA. (The court’s answer: “no.”)

Disclosure: I served as an expert witness in this case.

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“There’s only one way to fix gerrymandering (and it’s not through the courts)”

In The Hill, Grant Tudor and Beau Tremitiere highlight their report on the congressional single-member-district statute.  

I think various institutions in several states might want a word about the “only one way” in the headline (which op-ed columnists usually don’t write, despite the fact that their names are right underneath).

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“A group offered cities money to opt in to ranked choice voting. State elections office warns accepting that is likely illegal”

In response to a question at a city council meeting, an advocacy organization’s representative apparently noted that one county’s implementation of RCV might cost an extra $36,000 for software licensing, ballot design, and the like … and that the organization would be willing to cover the gap.  It’s not exactly an inducement to participate, but likely still violates Utah’s new law against accepting private donations.  (And the advocate, saying she wasn’t aware of the law, has since backed off of the suggestion.)

I think it’s likely that the laws restricting private funding are going to end up with more complicated impacts than the legislators have foreseen, and not in ways that help local officials administer elections.

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