Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is looking to roll back the state’s ban on felon voting, she announced this week. Iowa is one of three states with constitutions that permanently ban convicted felons from voting unless the governor choses to restore the felon’s franchise. Reynolds proposed in her Condition of the State speech a constitutional amendment, which would need to go through the legislature, to change the current system, though the details of the proposal are still unclear. More than 50,000 Iowans can’t vote due to the current ban.
Trump’s Justice Department is reversing its posture on a key issue in the ongoing litigation over Texas’ legislative maps, which had been found racially discriminatory in the courts. The challengers in the case, backed by Obama’s DOJ, had sought to require Texas to get federal approval for all maps that it drew, which it previously needed to do under the so-called pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act. In court filings last week, the Trump administration indicated it wanted to switch that position, and side with the state in its fight against being put under pre-clearance.
A federal judge in Wisconsin on Thursday blocked cutbacks to early voting and other voting restrictions that the states’ GOP lawmakers passed in a lame-duck session before Democratic Gov. Tony Evers took office. Republicans had sought to limit early voting to two weeks in the state. They also sought to put additional limits on the types of IDs that could be used to vote. U.S. District Judge James Peterson ruled that the early voting reductions were a violation of an order he handed down in 2016 that blocked the state from cutting early voting in ways similar to what he ruled against then. That 2016 decision also blocked the ID restrictions that Republicans passed again late last year.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson wants to settle a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s legislative maps as unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans. Benson, a Democrat, said that she hoped to “ensure a fair and equitable resolution” of the matter, allowing new congressional and state Senate districts to be drawn prior to the 2020 election. The Michigan Republican Party accused Benson of trying to obtain a “secret consent decree” to “draw new district lines designed to benefit Democratic candidates.”
A federal judge in Manhattan ruled on Tuesday that the administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the Census was illegal, and, on Friday, the Supreme Court canceled arguments on what evidence could be used in the case, originally scheduled in February. The administration appealed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, and is also likely to ask the Supreme Court to weigh in before June, before the Census printing deadline.
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