• Seal with a Pen

The Upbeat: Maps, Primaries, and Laws

Happy Friday all!


I'm writing this on Thursday, as I'll be busy tomorrow and unable to write, but suffice it to say that this week has been an especially good week for independents and Americans overall.


By the way, 58% of Americans say they're open to voting for an independent candidate if the 2024 election turns out to be a rehash of Biden vs. Trump. I'm not going to write a whole blurb on this today, but check out this article on the Hill If you want to learn more about the poll.


-- Seal with a Pen


The congressional map New York used last decade (left) versus the legislature's struck-down proposal (right) (Credit: screenshots from Dave's Redistricting, here and here)


New York gerrymander struck down. Earlier this decade, the people of New York voted to end gerrymandering by creating an independent redistricting commission, like the ones I've talked about before. Unfortunately, however, the new law allowed the legislature to override the commission if they didn't like the map it made -- and override they did, passing a brutally gerrymandered map that heavily advantaged the Democratic Party. Happily, this map will never be used: the Supreme Court of New York struck down the map this week, and appointed a nonpartisan expert to draw a new map. It is likely that this map will be much more fair than the legislature's gerrymander. Read more: https://ballot-access.org/2022/04/27/new-york-state-court-of-appeals-agrees-with-lower-state-court-that-new-york-u-s-house-districts-violate-the-state-constitution/ (Ballot Access News), https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-kathy-hochul-legislature-primary-f2178f502490fa94d20800f76420bc21 (Associated Press), https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/new-york-just-cost-democrats-their-big-redistricting-advantage/ (FiveThirtyEight)


Maine opens up their primaries. Politicians often ignore the concerns of independent voters. After all, independent voters are the least likely to vote in elections, and without a party organization to advocate for their causes, many independents simply go unheard. Those who feel uncomfortable with the two main parties get much less say over which candidates get on the ballot, too: most states don't allow independent voters to vote in the primaries they fund with their tax dollars, while the bar for independent and third-party candidates to get on the ballot can be significantly higher than it is for two-party candidates. The end result: politicians who primarily cater to independents -- the largest group of Americans -- simply have to fight a lot harder to succeed. In Maine, however, a bipartisan effort has succeeded in allowing independents to register to vote in partisan primaries without joining the relevant primary, enabling them to finally have a vote just as powerful as Democrats and Republicans. The bill still needs to be signed by the Governor but is expected to succeed. Read more: https://ballot-access.org/2022/04/28/maine-bill-to-allow-independent-voters-to-vote-in-primaries-finally-passes/ (Ballot Access News), https://bangordailynews.com/2022/04/26/politics/maine-open-primaries-joam40zk0w/ (Bangor Daily News)


Freshman representative passes his first law. Passing a law one sponsored themselves is a special moment for new representatives, especially given how few laws get passed each session. Just 113 laws have been passed by Congress and signed by the President since the 117th Congress (2021-23) began, less than one for every three representatives. That's why the impending passage of a new bill sponsored by U.S. Representative Blake Moore (R-UT), elected for the first time in 2020, is an exciting privilege and achievement for both him and the people of his district. This will be Moore's first bill to become law: the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land Act, or the MAPLand Act, which pushes the government to produce maps of federal land and other data in a way that is easily accessible and usable by different federal agencies as well as normal citizens. With Congress widely seen as ineffective, seeing that even a brand new representative like Moore has the ability to pass a law is an inspiring sign. The bill will hopefully be signed into law soon. Read more: https://blakemoore.house.gov/media/press-releases/congressman-blake-moores-modernizing-access-our-public-land-act-passes-senate (Representative Blake Moore, press release) https://www.trcp.org/2020/03/20/mapland-the-basics/ (Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, law explanation)

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