GOP Gerrymandered Maps Struck Down By State Supreme Court In NH


After New Hampshire state legislators passed Congressional redistricting proposals including a set-up that would’ve left the two Democrats currently representing the state in the same district ahead of the midterms, the state Supreme Court has now officially adopted a new map that’s very close to the pre-census arrangement — officially putting GOP gerrymandering attempts to rest.

The new map apparently moves just five towns from New Hampshire’s 1st District to its 2nd, and rather than any kind of political considerations weighing on this shift, the relatively minor map changes keep the district populations balanced. New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu refused to go along with Congressional redistricting plans from Republicans in the state legislature that would have amounted to political manipulations of the process. No matter any claimed original intentions, the net result of putting plans from GOP legislators into practice would have seemingly been turning the state’s swing district (it only has two districts in total) into a more favorable political environment for Republicans. (The 1st is the swing district.)

Kelly Burton, who serves as president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), praised the outcome in New Hampshire. “Throughout the redistricting process, Republicans in the New Hampshire General Court arrogantly passed partisan gerrymander after partisan gerrymander, but they were stopped by Governor Sununu’s veto,” she said. “The map adopted by the New Hampshire Supreme Court today is not only a clear rejection against this brazen attempt at political gerrymandering, it is a victory for the voters of New Hampshire who did not stop fighting for fair maps.” In an order released within hours of oral arguments ending on May 31, the New Hampshire state Supreme Court unanimously backed a map from Nathaniel Persily — Stanford Law professor and court-appointed “special master.”

The court previously rejected an attempt by GOP legislative officials in the state to stop the court from handling the preparation of the state’s next Congressional district map, according to voting rights attorney Marc Elias. In preparing his formal recommendations, Persily was not permitted to “consider political data or partisan factors, such as party registration statistics, prior election results, or future election prospects,” the court explained. The process moved relatively quickly in its most recent stages — it was, as the court explained it, “no earlier than May 27, 2022” that the court demanded from Persily “a report and a recommended congressional redistricting plan for New Hampshire pursuant to the criteria set forth in our opinion and this order,” and for good reason: New Hampshire’s candidate filing period for this fall’s midterm elections is set to run from June 1 through June 10, meaning the new Congressional map was adopted the day before filing opened.

Redistricting could have a significant impact on the outcome of the midterm elections, especially considering the fact that control of Congress could be decided with a close leading margin for whoever wins. In Florida, for instance, Republican leadership are pushing a map that essentially eliminates a northern district currently represented by Democrat Al Lawson, who is Black. Areas from his district are spread across several different districts in a DeSantis-backed configuration a court recently reinstated.