• The League joined national civil rights, voting rights, labor and criminal justice organizations in submitting comments to the Census Bureau asking that incarcerated persons be counted at their home address, rather than the prison facility they occupy on census day. The League believes that if the Census Bureau modified its residence rule with respect to incarcerated persons, all states and localities will have the opportunity to more accurately and equitably reflect the incarcerated population in their redistricting plans.

  •  Supreme Court Backs Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

    Washington, DC – Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission was a big victory for citizen-led democracy, ruling that independent redistricting commissions set up by voters are constitutional. The decision maintains the Arizona system put in place in 2000 by voters through a ballot initiative, as well as California’s system, which was also put in place directly through the initiative process. 

    “This is a tremendous victory for democracy,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “Today’s decision reinforces a key principle in redistricting reform:  that voters should choose their representatives rather than letting politicians choose their voters. Drawing the boundaries of legislative districts is too important to leave to politicians,” she said. 

    “This decision is all the more important because partisan gerrymandering has reached dangerous levels across the nation,” MacNamara said. “Its harmful effects are not hard to find: the practice undermines the concept of majority rule, reduces the competitiveness of elections, and contributes to the political polarization that feeds gridlock.”

    “The Arizona legislature argued in this case that only they can conduct federal redistricting under the U.S. Constitution,” said MacNamara. “Today, the Court rejected that argument, reasoning that the initiative power of the people of Arizona was a valid exercise of legislative power.”

    “With the Arizona opinion, independent redistricting commissions are reinforced as an important process by which the voters can protect themselves and their state from excessive partisan gerrymandering,” said MacNamara. “We will continue to work at the state and national levels to pursue reforms through legislative action, constitutional amendment or citizen initiative,” she said.

    The League of Women Voters of the U.S. joined with other concerned organizations in an amicus brief in this case arguing that the Court had already ruled that excessive partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. The Leagues of Women Voters of Arizona and Illinois also joined amicus briefs in this case.

    “Today, the highest court in the nation strengthened the power of the people to protect themselves from excessive partisan influence and incumbency protection in redistricting,” concluded MacNamara. “This is a great for democracy and for those that believe in fair, effective representation for all.”

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org.

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  • The League joined other organizations on a letter to the U.S. Census Bureau regarding tabulation procedures for incarcerated people. 


     

  • “Court decision is a big step forward in fight for voter-based redistricting,” says League

    Washington, D.C.  – Late yesterday, a Florida Circuit Court issued an opinion in Romo v. Detzner, a case that examined whether Florida's congressional districts violate that state’s constitution.  The final judgment of the court was that the congressional map drawn by the Florida legislature and adopted in 2012 violates the Fair District Amendments to Florida’s constitution which were adopted by citizen initiative in 2010 to remove partisan influence from the redistricting process. The League of Women Voters of Florida was the lead organizational plaintiff in the lawsuit, and was the driving force behind passage of the Fair Districts Amendments.

    “This decision gives us a new tool to fight partisan gerrymandering,” said national League President, Elisabeth MacNamara. “The criteria adopted by the citizens of Florida and enforced by the court are effective in fighting partisan gerrymandering. This case provides a roadmap for other states to limit partisan gerrymandering and force an open and transparent process for drawing congressional lines.”

    “Today, we see that voters can win,” MacNamara said. “We can have redistricting processes that allow the voters to choose their representatives rather than the politicians choosing the voters. We now have a track record in Florida and California, of successful, citizen-led initiatives by the League of Women Voters that have used both redistricting criteria and an independent commission to fight partisan gerrymandering.”

    During the case, the Florida courts required legislators to disclose secret emails used in the redistricting process that helped this court decide that the Florida congressional redistricting was intentionally designed to benefit one political party over the other. “This decision once again shows the importance of transparency. It was essential for the legislators to come clean and reveal what was really going on in the redistricting process. Citizens have a right to have government act in the open rather than in secret,” MacNamara said.

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org

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    Like” the League on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • Voting Rights Act Rally in front of the Supreme Court, February 2013

    In its ruling on Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court erased fundamental protections against racial discrimination in voting that have been critical in protecting our democracy for more than four decades.

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