maps

State files appeal of order halting new Tennessee Senate maps

Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) presides over the chamber on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Attorney General’s Office has filed a challenge to a three-judge panel’s order halting Tenenssee Senate redistricting maps with the state Court of Appeals. The state is also asking the court to lift an injunction on the current districts and reverse the decision to move the candidate filing deadline from today until May 5.

“The trial court’s injunction requires Defendants to immediately and drastically modify the already-ongoing procedures for elections,” the state said in its appeal. A motion for the Supreme Court to reach down and bypass the intermediate Court of Appeals is expected on Friday.

The state requests an expedited review of its appeal (though the plaintiffs will no doubt be sure to point out that the state successfully opposed efforts to expedite their case on the trial court level to go to summary judgement by March 9).

According the state:

The trial court’s decision to extend the qualifying deadline to May 5, 2022 throws this process into disarray. Now the withdrawal and disqualification deadlines are May 12, 2022, and the appeal deadline and state executive committee review deadline are May 19, 2022. The injunction leaves only 21 business days for the county election administrators to do everything that is necessary to have ballots ready to mail to military and overseas voters by the federal deadline.

The appeal plows similar ground as the state’s original response to the lawsuit, which includes arguments that the plaintiffs don’t have standing, won’t be harmed by the new maps, and waited too long to file their lawsuit.

3-judge panel: No need to rush on redistricting lawsuit

Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston), left, walks to look at a proposed House redistricting map on Dec. 17, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A three-judge panel has declined a request by the plaintiffs in a Democratic Party lawsuit to expedite proceedings. The judges said they weren’t convinced they had the authority to hurry up the case and that “expediting these proceedings as requested would not allow the important constitutional questions to be fully and meaningfully considered and adjudicated on the merits.”

The lawsuit claims the state House maps could have been drawn with fewer than 30 split counties and that the Senate plan violated a constitutional requirement for districts to be consecutively numbered in Nashville.

Here’s the order:

This reapportionment case was filed on February 23, 2022. Plaintiffs Akilah Moore, Telise Turner, and Gary Wright are suing Defendants Governor Bill Lee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, and Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins in their official capacities, claiming that the State House and Senate maps are unconstitutionally drawn. Plaintiffs’ unverified Complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief. On March 1, 2022, the Tennessee Supreme Court entered an Order designating the undersigned as the Three Judge Panel (“Panel”) to hear this case.

On March 2, 2022, Plaintiffs filed Plaintiffs’ Motion to Set Hearing and Expedited Briefing Schedule on Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, for Expedited Trial (“Motion to Expedite”). On March 3, 2022, Defendants filed Defendants’ Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion to Set Hearing and Expedited Briefing Schedule on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, for Expedited Trial (“Response in Opposition”). On March 4, 2022, Plaintiffs filed Plaintiffs’ Reply in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion to Set Hearing and Expedited Briefing Schedule on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the Alternative, for Expedited Trial (“Plaintiffs’ Reply”). After conferring, the Panel entered an Order on March 3, 2022, setting Plaintiffs’ Motion to Expedite for a telephonic hearing on March 7, 2022 at 2:30 p.m.

After considering the Motion to Expedite, the record, and the arguments of counsel for the parties, the Panel respectfully DENIES Plaintiffs’ Motion to Expedite on the following grounds:

1.            The Panel was not convinced that it had authority to expedite the proceedings in the fashion requested in the motion.

2.            Given all the attendant circumstances, including Defendants’ preliminary estimate that they needed to develop expert proof to defend Plaintiffs’ constitutional challenges and the possibility that discovery might be necessary, the Panel concludes that expediting these proceedings as requested would not allow the important constitutional questions to be fully and meaningfully considered and adjudicated on the merits.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

/Signed/

RUSSELL T. PERKINS, Chief Judge

J. MICHAEL SHARP Judge

STEVEN W. MARONEY, Chancellor

Redistricting: How Senate Democrats would do it

Democrats in the state Senate have submitted a plan for the chamber’s seats as part of the once-per-decade redistricting process.

Democrats currently hold six of 33 seats in the chamber. Republicans have yet to release their draft plan.

Here’s the release from the Senate Democratic caucus:

NASHVILLE—Nearly every city in the state and 87 counties are kept whole in Tennessee Senate districts under a proposed statewide map released Friday by Democrats.

“This proposal keeps communities together—whole counties and whole cities wherever possible,” says Sen. Jeff Yarbro, the Tennessee Senate minority leader. “We want every member of every community to know that their voice matters in the state Senate and that their vote will make a difference.”

Democrats are releasing their 33–district Senate proposal after gathering input directly from Tennesseans at five public community meetings across the state. Additionally, members of the Democratic caucus participated in dozens more meetings hosted by local organizations to discuss how districts should change in 2022.

“This is a fair map that directly incorporates feedback from people and organizations who told us, ‘please keep our city together,’” Sen. Raumesh Akbari said. “This is a map that keeps more cities and more communities together than ever before. It’s a map that makes senators more accountable to the voters they serve.”

Biggest changes

Most of the districts in this proposal shift toward Middle Tennessee to accommodate for the region’s explosive population growth. But every district in the proposal retains core characteristics from the current map.

  • Antioch added to La Vergne & Smyrna’s Senate Seat: Senate District 13 maintains its base in western Rutherford County, but it now extends into southeast Nashville to create a full a Senate District for like-communities of Antioch, La Vergne and Smyrna along the I-24 corridor.
  • Bradley County unsplit. This proposal undoes a controversial decision from 2012: splitting Bradley County into two districts. Senate District 10 instead returns to Hamilton County with its lines around the city of Chattanooga and Senate District 9 takes in the whole of Bradley County along with McMinn, Meigs and Rhea counties.
  • Full Senate Seat within Montgomery County: Following a decade where they county saw a near 30 percent growth in population, the city of Clarksville almost qualifies to have its very own state senate seat. In this proposal, Senate District 22 sheds two counties to the west and now captures the core of Clarksville along with unincorporated areas north of the Cumberland River.
  • West Tenn. Districts Get Bigger: West Tennessee saw slow growth in many counties and population loss in others — a trend that forces senate districts to expand geographically. As such: Senate District 24 grows east from six to eight counties. Senate District 26 grows east from eight to nine counties. Senate District 27 grows from 5 to 6 counties. And Senate District 32 grows from Tipton County and a portion of Shelby County to three counties and a portion of Shelby.

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House redistricting panel to hold first meeting Wednesday

The House Select Committee on Redistricting holds its first meeting on Wednesday.

Anyone wishing to participate in the public comment section of the meeting must register by Tuesday afternoon.

Traditionally each chamber comes up with its own redistricting plan, while the House and Senate combine to draw new congressional maps.

Here’s the agenda:

Select Committee on Redistricting

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 – HHR I – 1:00 PM

Johnson C, Chair; Marsh, Vice-Chair; Camper, Crawford, Faison, Freeman, Hazlewood, Hicks G, Holsclaw, Lamberth, Parkinson, Russell, Vaughan, Whitson, Williams, Windle

I. Call to Order & Introductions

II. Presentation – Doug Himes, Counsel to the Select Committee on
Redistricting

III. House Redistricting Guidelines

IV. Submission of Redistricting Plans

V. Public Comments*

VI. Adjourn

Here are the maps for the Chattanooga mayor’s race

(Image credit: Don Johnson)

Our favorite political mapmaker is at it again. This time he’s breaking down the Chattanooga Mayor’s race won by businessman Tim Kelly.

Kelly, the former owner of a prominent auto dealership and the Chattanooga Brewing Co., defeated Kim White, a protege of former Mayor Bob Corker who had the support of the Chamber crowd, by 20 percentage points last week. Kelly has succeeded term-limited Mayor Andy Berke.

Kelly and White were separated by just one percentage point in the first round to qualify for the runoff. Here’s a closer look at first round, which featured 15 candidates:

Kelly, who broke with Republicans over the nomination of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race, describes himself as being a member of the “Chattanooga Party.” During the runoff phase, Kelly gained endorsements from the African-American community, including from four black candidates who split 36% of the vote in the first round. They included third-place finisher Wade Hinton, a former city attorney who had been Berke’s choice in the race.

Here’s how the runoff panned out:

Again many thanks to Don Johnson for his fine work. Follow him on Twitter for more fine maps.

Tennessee top state in COVID cases per million

Source: Covidexitstrategy.org

A graphic making the rounds on social media paints Tennessee in an unflattering light when it comes to the spread of COVID-19. Eric Topol, the founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, tweeted two charts showing Tennessee and Ohio as the only places in the world where the infection rates have hit 1,000 per million.

The CovidExitStrategy.org map and a Financial Times chart come from data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project.

UPDATE: Arizona has since been added to the list of states with more than 1,000 infections per million.

The New York Times also has this chart of the cities where infections are rising the fastest, which includes eight in Tennessee:

Check out these precinct-level maps of the presidential election in Tennessee

Our favorite political mapmaker Don Johnson has put his considerable talents to work with these maps of the presidential election in Tennessee based on the results certified by the state this week.

The level of support of for Republican Donald Trump is through the roof in much of the state. But the relatively small blue areas signifying support for Democrat Joe Biden still make up 1.14 million votes, showing how concentrated the state’s urban population is.

Here is another set of maps showing the changes in presidential party voting:

Keep up the good work, Don!

Early voting turnout well ahead of 2016 so far

Here is a look at turnout in early voting in Tennessee by our favorite political mapmaker Don Johnson.

Shelby County has seen one of the biggest increases compared with four years ago, while the suburban counties around Nashville have been among those with the largest percentage of their registered voters casting their ballots early.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office says 249,302 more voters have cast early ballots so far than in 2016, a 52% increase.

Check out these precinct-level maps of the U.S. Senate primary

Our favorite political mapmaker Don Johnson is back with a fascinating look at where Bill Hagerty and Manny Sethi did best in the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Tennessee. Have a look here:

Maps show relative strengths of Democratic presidential candidates

Friend-of-the-blog Don Johnson is out with his latest maps breaking down last week’s Democratic presidential primary results. Have a look!

Knoxville:

Shelby County:

Nashville:

Keep ’em coming, Don!