New from Issue One.
Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is asking the state Supreme Court to take up a motion to reconsider Wisconsin’s congressional maps after the state’s legislative boundaries were changed to weaken Republicans’ grip on the state Legislature.
Evers asked the court to reconsider the congressional lines the same day he signed into law new maps that give Democrats a chance at competing for control of both chambers of the state Legislature for the first time in more than a decade.
The high-powered Democratic law firm Elias Law Group filed a motion with the Wisconsin Supreme Court last month asking the court to reconsider the congressional lines ahead of the 2024 election. The group argued new lines were warranted after the high court, when considering the legislative map challenge late last year, said it would no longer favor maps that minimize changes to existing boundary lines — a theory known as the “least-change” approach.
“Given that the maps the Governor submitted in Johnson were grounded in that ‘least change’ approach, the Governor urges the Court to review its decision and stands ready to participate in any future proceedings the Court may order,” Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Anthony D. Russomanno wrote in a letter to the state Supreme Court clerk on Monday.
Evers’ request is the latest development in the congressional map inquiry as Democrats face a tight deadline to put new maps in place with under nine months until the November election. The court has not publicly indicated it will review the motion, and the Wisconsin Elections Commission has said that any new maps must be in place by March 15 to take effect for 2024.
Here at The Hill.
A state appeals court ruled that a New York City law that would allow non-citizens to vote in local elections is unconstitutional — marking a win for the Republican elected officials who sued to block it.
“We determine that this local law was enacted in violation of the New York State Constitution and Municipal Home Rule Law, and thus, must be declared null and void,” read the Wednesday ruling from Paul Wooten, an associate justice of the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department in New York.
The National Association of Secretaries of State Winter Conference is usually a cordial affair. It’s one of two occasions every year in which top election officials from most states gather to commiserate and share nonpartisan advice. But at this year’s conference, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner drew rare groans from the crowd.
During the question-and-answer portion of a cybersecurity panel, which included senior officials from the FBI and Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Warner stepped up to the mic. “In October of 2020, the CIA lied to the American people on purpose and it was covered up by the FBI,” he said. “We have our own federal agencies lying to the American people.”
The panel thanked Warner tersely and moved on to another question.
Warner, who has been in his role for eight years and is running for the Republican nomination for governor, made similar conspiratorial claims about the CIA on the debate stage in December. His statements fit into a larger false conspiracy theory that he’s advanced that government agencies such as the CIA had a hand in rigging the 2020 election. The remarks have solidified him among his colleagues as the only sitting election director in the country to openly embrace the election denialism that former President Donald Trump has used to explain his 2020 loss.
“It is problematic when you have a chief election officer of a state embracing conspiracy theories that undermine people’s confidence in the election process for no good reason,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of election law at the UCLA School of Law.
“People should be able to look to their election and elected officials to provide them with truthful information and not to fan the flames of conspiracies,” Hasen said.
Warner, more than any other top election official in the country, has vacillated over the years between promoting election conspiracy theories and fighting them.
In interviews, three secretaries of state told NBC News they believe his election rhetoric is a political tactic to garner votes, something he disputes.
A federal appeals court must decide if Pennsylvania voters need to put accurate handwritten dates on the outside envelopes of their mail-in ballots for the votes to count, a dispute with implications for this year’s presidential contest.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held oral arguments in Philadelphia Tuesday over a district judge’s ruling in November that even without the proper dates, mail-in ballots should be counted if they are received in time.
Ari Savitzky, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union representing several voter groups, told the court that more than 10,000 ballots in Pennsylvania were disqualified in 2022 based on what he called “a meaningless paperwork error.” He argued that the “materiality provision” of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was designed to prevent that.
You can access the oral argument audio via How Appealing.
Mark Brown oped in Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Laura Brill at her Substack.
A Florida man accused of forging signatures on petitions to get a new political party officially recognized in Kansas has been arrested. George Andrews, 30 of Dade City, Florida, was arrested on Feb. 10 and has been charged with two counts of election perjury and 28 counts of election forgery for allegedly forging signatures on petitions to make “No Labels” an officially recognized political party in Kansas, according to a news release. “The arrested individual was part of a scheme to defraud Kansas voters by placing their forged signatures on petitions. In Kansas, we take election fraud seriously, and we will prosecute every case where the evidence indicates a crime has been committed beyond a reasonable doubt,” Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach said in a statement.
Locked out of power on the Supreme Court and still playing catch-up against Republicans in the federal judiciary, Democrats are hoping to gain a political advantage on a less visible but still important playing field: the state courts.
After flipping the Arizona governor’s seat from Republican to Democratic last year, Gov. Katie Hobbs has appointed 15 judges to the state’s Superior Courts. In five years leading deeply red Kansas, the Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, has named two justices to the Court of Appeals and one to the State Supreme Court.
Governors have the power to appoint judges in nearly every state. These responsibilities are set to take center stage in political campaigns this year, as the Democratic Governors Association begins a multimillion-dollar effort, called the Power to Appoint Fund, aimed at key governor’s races.
The fund, with a $5 million goal, will focus especially hard on two open seats in 2024 battlegrounds: New Hampshire, where the governor has the power to appoint state court justices, and North Carolina, which elects its justices; the next governor will appoint at least one State Supreme Court justice because of the state’s age limit rules.
The newest member of the San Francisco Elections Commission, a seven-member civilian body that oversees and creates policy for the city’s Department of Elections, isn’t legally allowed to vote.
Kelly Wong, an immigrant rights advocate, is believed to be the first noncitizen appointed to the commission. At a swearing-in ceremony administered by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin on Wednesday at San Francisco City Hall, dozens of people gathered to commemorate the occasion.
Wong said she hopes her appointment is a beacon of hope for other immigrants living in the city….
Happy President’s Day. Here’s a new Common Ground Democracy column explaining why and how to apply the top-3 electoral system that Eric Maskin and I describe in our Project Syndicate column to presidential elections. The key, as explained at the end, is to modify the concept of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact so that it can implement the top-3 system among states having at least 270 electoral votes. As you watch the current three-way competition between Biden, Trump, and Haley (for at least as long as Haley keeps her campaign going in the current system), imagine what that same three-way competition would look like if this top-3 system were in place instead of our current presidential election procedures.