Politics Democrats want Arizona to reject mapping firm's application to redraw districts
How states losing House seats decide which districts are cut
The announcement that California and six other states, mostly in the Midwest and Northeast, will lose House seats in the next Congress set off a wave of fundraising appeals from incumbent Democrats concerned about their efforts to hold on to their chamber majority in 2022. Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 2-to-1 in the congressional delegations […] The post How states losing House seats decide which districts are cut appeared first on Roll Call.
Democrats are calling on Arizona's independent redistricting board to reject applications to draw maps from a group whose top official has served as an expert witness for Republican legislators in gerrymandering cases.
The Arizona Independent Redistricting Committee (IRC) is due to vote Tuesday on which companies it will hire to perform the demographic analysis and draw redistricting maps based on the 2020 Census.
All On The Line, a campaign affiliated with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, formally called on IRC on Thursday to reject an application to be the mapping consultants presented by Timmons Group and National Demographics Corporation (NDC).
Judge won't block Arizona Senate's 2020 election recount
PHOENIX (AP) — A judge on Wednesday refused to shut down the Republican-led Arizona Senate's recount of 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 election in the state's most populous county but ordered ballot secrecy and voter privacy procedures its contractor is using be made public. The decision by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Martin was both a loss and a win for the Arizona Democratic Party, whose lawyers argued the secrecy sought by the Senate put voter privacy at risk.
"Arizonans cannot trust NDC to be in a position of drafting maps that could potentially undermine representation," said Kendra Alvarez, Arizona All On The Line state director, in a statement.
"To continue living up to its promise of redistricting reform, the IRC must hire a mapping firm that is impartial and fair. It's evident that Timmons Group + NDC is not the right choice. AOTL will continue working to ensure that this process is transparent and results in equitable maps that fairly represent voters in every corner of the state," said Alvarez.
Democrats say NDC was "involved with maps" that were later ruled discriminatory, like the boundaries for the Kern County, Calif. Board of Supervisors.
NDC has been involved in drawing hundreds of political maps based on demographic analysis, including many at the local level in Arizona, according to its president, Douglas Johnson.
Arizona vote recount contractor releases privacy policies
PHOENIX (AP) — A contractor overseeing the Arizona Senate's unprecedented recount of 2.1 million ballots from the November election complied Thursday with a court order and released its policies for ensuring voter privacy and ballot secrecy. The release of three documents by Florida-based Cyber Ninjas came a day after a Maricopa County judge refused to allow the company or the Republican-led Senate to keep the material secret and ordered it made public. Judge Daniel Martin gave them a day to appeal, but they declined.
To compete for the statewide redistricting contract, NDC partnered with Timmons Group, a national firm that implements ESRI, an advanced geographical mapping software.
NDC was the mapping consultant for Arizona's first redistricting commission in 2001, an exercise that was ultimately rejected by the Department of Justice.
"NDC has a history of drawing maps that are to the disadvantage of Latino communities," said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.).
In 2018, a federal judge approved redrawing district maps in Kern County, after the original maps were found to have unconstitutionally split Latino communities in the area, undermining their voting power.
"The court concludes that Latino voters in Kern County have been deprived of an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice,"Judge Dale Drozd of the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of California in his ruling.
The Arizona GOP's Maricopa County audit: What to know about it
Whatever the outcome, the Republican Senate's recount and audit will not change the results of the 2020 election.Although every state has certified its results, the Republican-controlled state Senate in Arizona has undertaken a full hand recount and audit of the ballots and voting machines in Maricopa, the state's largest county, a move that has been frequently praised by the former president. President Biden won the county, a longtime Republican stronghold, by 45,109 votes, and he won the state by 10,457 votes. At the same time, Democrats also picked up a U.S. Senate seat from Arizona.
Johnson told The Hill he had no involvement in drawing the Kern County maps, but was brought in years later to serve as an expert witness in the case where the maps were struck down.
Johnson said his work applying demographic research to electoral maps often renders him and his company the targets of political attacks.
"It's painful but it's also validation because we work very hard to be non partisan," said Johnson.
Still, Democrats say both NDC's history and Johnson's personal history make the company unsuitable to draw Arizona's new political maps.
In 2019, Johnson served as an expert witness for Republican lawmakers in a North Carolina trial over gerrymandering, and had part of his testimony thrown out after admitting it was incorrect.
The three-judge panelJohnson's testimony where he minimized the influence of maps drawn by Thomas Hofeller on the state's 2017 redistricting maps.
Johnson said only a fraction of his testimony was thrown out in that case, adding that he used a new statistical method to compare maps, leading to a technical error where he overlooked the similarity between the implemented maps and Hofeller's proposal.
Hofeller had also drawn North Carolina's 2011 maps, which were overturned for gerrymandering on racial grounds.
Hofeller, a former Republican National Committee consultant, gained some notoriety after his death, when his daughter made public the contents of his, including a 2015 report on how to make redistricting "advantageous to Republican and Non-Hispanic Whites."
The Timmons Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.
Drone operators challenge surveyors' turf in mapping dispute .
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — When Michael Jones started a side hustle shooting drone photos and videos for realtors, his clients wanted more: Images with property lines on them, to better understand where their fences should be. It seemed like a good use of emerging technology that met an obvious consumer demand, and Jones was careful to add a disclaimer: His maps weren't meant to replace the proper surveys that are often needed for such things as mortgages, title insurance and land use applications. But after two years of steady business, Jones was slapped by the state of North Carolina in 2018 with an order that grounded his drone.