Democracy took a heavy blow on Tuesday, but paths forward remain

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​If the current 6-3 majority of far-right hardliners remains on the Supreme Court, the court presents an existential danger to the Voting Rights Act’s remaining protections and threatens to turbocharge GOP gerrymandering across the country. But if Democrats pull off upsets to flip the Senate in January, Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress could pass legislation to curb the court’s radicalism, ban congressional gerrymandering nationally, and adopt a reinvigorated Voting Rights Act.

In the meantime, many lawsuits that were ongoing before Election Day have since become mooted by the results. Many additional ones have been newly filed in the days since, including several largely frivolous ones by Donald Trump in a desperate last-ditch effort to deny the writing on the wall as Joe Biden leads decisively in the Electoral College. Due to the fast-shifting nature of these lawsuits and the doubtfulness of Trump’s odds of reversing his apparent loss anytime soon, we will be skipping these cases in this edition of the Voting Rights Roundup and will cover any litigation that remains relevant in future editions.

Below, we’ll provide short recaps of the outcomes of key elections for various types of offices. Daily Kos Elections is also tracking the results of key elections by office type here, where you can find an up-to-date accounting of what remains uncalled.

Redistricting

Control over redistricting largely hinges on winning power in state houses. Some states currently have independent redistricting commissions, state courts opposed to gerrymandering, or governors with veto pens that could constrain gerrymandering, but all three of these are threatened by the U.S. Supreme Court.

● Arizona: Republicans are leading in enough races to hold both legislative chambers and maintain full control of state government, though key races remain uncalled as of Friday. Arizona currently has an independent redistricting commission.

● Connecticut: Democrats gained a two-thirds supermajority in the state Senate but failed to gain one in the state House, meaning they can’t gain single-party control over redistricting.

● Florida: Republicans held their majorities in both legislative chambers to maintain full control over state government.

● Georgia: Republicans held their majorities in both legislative chambers to maintain full control over state government.

● Iowa: Republicans held their majorities in both legislative chambers to maintain full control over state government. Iowa has a nonpartisan redistricting agency that is threatened by the GOP’s single-party control.

● Kansas: Republicans held their supermajorities in both legislative chambers to maintain the power to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s vetoes.

● Michigan: Republicans held their majorities in both chambers to maintain full control over the legislature. Democrats gained a 4-3 majority on the state Supreme Court. Michigan additionally has a Democratic governor with veto power and currently has an independent redistricting commission.

● Minnesota: Republicans are leading in key uncalled races for control of the state Senate, which would block Democrats from gaining full control of state government after they held the state House.

● Missouri: Republican Gov. Mike Parson won re-election to maintain the GOP’s control over congressional redistricting. Voters passed the GOP’s constitutional amendment that guts the reform voters passed in 2018 to make the bipartisan legislative redistricting commission process fairer.

● Nebraska: Republicans failed to turn their unicameral legislative majority into a two-thirds supermajority needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster, but the GOP retains the ability to end the filibuster rule with a simple majority.

● New Hampshire: GOP Gov. Chris Sununu won re-election and Republicans flipped both legislative chambers to gain full control over redistricting.

● New Jersey: Voters passed Democrats’ constitutional amendment that could delay legislative redistricting from taking effect before the 2021 elections to not until the 2023 elections.

● New York: Key races that will decide whether Democrats gained a two-thirds supermajority in the state Senate and thus control over redistricting are still uncalled.

● North Carolina: Republicans held both chambers of the legislature. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper won re-election but can only veto judicial redistricting—not congressional or legislative. Republicans gained one state Supreme Court seat and lead in two other uncalled court races as of Friday. Democrats are assured of at least a 4-3 court majority even if they lose all three seats.

● Ohio: Democrats flipped only one of the two seats needed to gain control over the state Supreme Court, which will see a 4-3 GOP majority.

● Oregon: Democrats failed to obtain the two-thirds supermajorities needed to prevent Republicans from potentially boycotting the legislature to deny the quorum needed to pass a congressional map, but Democrats flipped the secretary of state’s office to ensure that such a boycott would leave Democrats in charge of legislative redistricting.

● Pennsylvania: Republicans are on track to hold both legislative chambers, though key races remain uncalled. Pennsylvania has a Democratic governor and state Supreme Court majority.

● Texas: Republicans held the state House to maintain full control of state government and held all four seats up in 2020 to maintain a 9-0 state Supreme Court majority.

● Vermont: Democrats and the left-wing Progressive Party held their combined two-thirds supermajority in the state Senate but lost it in the state House, where independents now hold the key to overriding re-elected GOP Gov. Phil Scott’s vetoes.

● Virginia: Voters passed a constitutional amendment to adopt a bipartisan redistricting commission that was put on the ballot by the Democratic legislature with the backing of Republicans and almost all state Senate Democrats but only a handful of state House Democrats.

● Wisconsin: Republicans held both legislative chambers but failed to gain the two-thirds supermajorities needed to override Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoes.

Voter Suppression and Voting Rights Expansions

Elections for state legislatures, governors, state supreme courts, and secretaries of state can all shape voting laws and procedures in various ways.

● Michigan: Democrats newly gained 4-3 majority on the state Supreme Court could strike down voting restrictions backed by the GOP legislature.

● Minnesota: Republicans are leading in key uncalled races for control of the state Senate, which would block Democrats from gaining full control of state government after Democrats held the state House. A Republican Senate would likely stop Democrats from passing automatic voter registration, adding Minnesota’s 10 Electoral College votes to the National Popular Vote Compact, restoring voting rights to people on parole or probation, and other voting reforms.

● Missouri: GOP Gov. Mike Parson’s re-election means Parson will flip the state Supreme Court to a majority of GOP appointees by 2024 under Missouri’s ostensibly merit-based nominating system, and the court could uphold new voting restrictions passed by GOP lawmakers.

● Montana: Greg Gianforte flipped the governor’s office to give Republicans full control of state government for the first time in 16 years, paving the way for likely a new voter ID law and other new voting restrictions. Republicans holding the attorney general’s office will block Democratic candidate Raph Graybill from trying to unilaterally implement automatic voter registration.

● New Hampshire: Republicans gained complete control over all branches of state government after flipping both legislative chambers and the state Executive Council, letting re-elected GOP Gov. Chris Sununu appoint a majority on the state Supreme Court and allowing GOP lawmakers to enact new voting restrictions.

● North Carolina: Republicans held both legislative chambers, blocking Democrats from gaining full control over state government, meaning Democrats can’t pass legislation to adopt automatic voter registration, allow Election Day voter registration, restore voting rights to people no longer incarcerated, add North Carolina’s 15 Electoral College votes to the National Popular Vote Compact, soften or repeal the GOP’s voter ID law, and pass other voting reforms.

● Ohio:  Democrats flipped only one of the two seats needed to gain control over the state Supreme Court, which will see a 4-3 GOP majority and deny Democrats the power to strike down GOP voting restrictions.

● Oregon: Democrat Shemia Fagan flipped the secretary of state’s office, but Democrats failed to gain the two-thirds legislative supermajorities that would prevent GOP quorum-busting tactics and guarantee that they could pass new voting and procedural reforms. Democrats could put constitutional amendments on the 2022 ballot to restore same-day voter registration and require only simple majorities for a quorum, but only if the GOP minority lets the legislature conduct any business in the first place.

● Pennsylvania: Republicans held their legislative majorities, denying Democrats full control over state government and the power to pass automatic voter registration, adopt same-day voter registration, expand in-person early voting, add Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College Votes to the National Popular Vote Compact, and enact other voting reforms.

● Texas: Republicans held all four seats up in 2020 to maintain a 9-0 state Supreme Court majority, making it harder for Democrats to win a majority in future elections that could strike down GOP voting restrictions later this decade.

● Washington: GOP Secretary of State Kim Wyman won re-election.

Ballot Measures

Below you can find a table summarizing all 24 ballot measures we tracked that affected voting rights, redistricting, electoral institutions, or constitutional reform.

Jurisdiction
Name
Outcome
Subject
Description

Alabama
Amendment 1
Passed
Citizenship voting requirement
Replaces guarantee that “every citizen” may vote with requirement that “only a citizen” may vote

Alaska
Measure 2
Uncalled
Electoral system reform
Adopts a top-four primary with instant-runoff general election; adds campaign finance disclosure requirements

Arkansas
Issue 2
Passed
Term limits
Loosens lifetime term limits for legislators

Arkansas
Issue 3
Failed
Ballot initiative process
Tightens geographic distribution restrictions for ballot initiative signature requirements in order to make liberal-supported initiatives harder

California
Proposition 17
Passed
Felony disenfranchisement
Eliminates disenfranchisement of voters on parole for a felony conviction

California
Proposition 18
Failed
Voting age
Lets 17-year-olds vote in primaries if they turn 18 by the general election

Colorado
Amendment 76
Passed
Citizenship voting requirement
Replaces guarantee that “every citizen” may vote with requirement that “only a citizen” may vote

Colorado
Proposition 113
Passed
Electoral College
Referendum on whether to implement or repeal law joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact for the Electoral College—”Yes” vote keeps the law in place

Florida
Amendment 1
Passed
Citizenship voting requirement
Replaces guarantee that “every citizen” may vote with requirement that “only a citizen” may vote

Florida
Amendment 3
Failed
Electoral system reform
Adopts a top-two primary (aka two-round system) in state-level races

Florida
Amendment 4
Failed
Ballot initiative process
Requires ballot initiatives to win (at least 60%) voter support in two consecutive general elections instead of one

Iowa
Constitutional Convention
Failed
Constitutional convention
Decides whether to call a state constitutional convention

Massachusetts
Question 2
Failed
Electoral system reform
Adopts instant-runoff voting (aka ranked-choice) in congressional, state, and countywide elections

Mississippi
Measure 2
Passed
Electoral system reform
Repeals Jim Crow-era “electoral college” law in statewide elections and replaces it with provision for a separate runoff election if no candidate wins a majority

Missouri
Amendment 1
Passed
Term limits
Sets a two-term limit for statewide executive offices below the governorship

Missouri
Amendment 3
Passed
Legislative redistricting
Effectively repeals a voter-approved 2018 ballot measure that made legislative redistricting treat both parties more fairly

Nevada
Question 4
Passed
Right to vote
Guarantees the right to vote via certain methods

New Jersey
Question 3
Passed
Legislative redistricting
Postpones 2021 legislative redistricting until the 2023 election cycle if census data release is delayed to after Feb. 15, 2021

North Dakota
Measure 2
Failed
Ballot initiative process
Requires a ballot initiative to win voter support in two consecutive general elections instead of one if the legislature doesn’t approve it

Oregon
Measure 107
Passed
Campaign finance
Allows the legislature to set campaign donation limits and disclosure requirements in state and local elections

Virginia
Redistricting Commission Amendment
Passed
Redistricting reform
Creates a bipartisan commission to draw congressional and legislative districts

Puerto Rico
Statehood Referendum
Uncalled
Statehood
Expresses yes/no position on whether Puerto Rico should seek statehood

Oakland, CA
Measure QQ
Uncalled
Voting age
Lowers the voting age to 16 in school board election

San Francisco, CA
Proposition G
Uncalled
Voting age
Lowers the voting age to 16 in local elections

St. Louis, MO
Proposition D
Passed
Electoral system reform
Adopts approval voting primary where the top-two finishers advance to the general election for local elections

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