I’ve written quite a bit about the disregarding of norms by the modern Republican Party. They play a kind of Calvinball, where they make up new rules as they go along if the old ones don’t fit their ends. I have a couple examples of this today.
First, let’s go to, unsurprisingly, Wisconsin, where state Republicans plan to forge ahead with redistricting maps prior to the August recall elections.
Legislative leaders have redrawn maps for the Assembly and Senate and could be ready to vote on them in the coming weeks, but they are closely guarding their plans for their districts and many lawmakers have yet to see them.
Having the maps completed means lawmakers have the option of approving them before recall elections are held this summer that could shift control of the Senate from Republicans to Democrats. Senate leaders declined Thursday to say whether they would do that.
But Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) said he is now sharing maps with Republicans in his house and deciding whether to pass the redistricting plan in July.
“We’ve got them all,” he said of the maps. “We’re meeting with members now, showing them maps.”
If they have the maps drawn, I’d say they’ll go ahead and pass them.
Here’s why this violates a norm. The ward lines for Wisconsin cities have not been drawn up yet. Typically, the wards are drawn, based on local-level data, before the districts. Otherwise, you could see a ward split up between several districts, adding a lot of extra costs in balloting (one ward could need multiple different ballots. In some draft Congressional maps that were already leaked, Milwaukee County was split up into four different Congressional districts, so this is certainly possible. And yet, despite the historical timeline of holding back redistricting until after the wards are set, Republicans are moving forward. They don’t care about the extra expense, just about solidifying their gains through gerrymandering before the Democrats potentially take control of the state Senate. I should add that this may not work, as there could be court challenges.
An even more egregious example is in Ohio. SB 5, the unpopular anti-union measure, will face a citizen veto in the form of an initiative in November. But Republicans in the state are trying to split the initiative into five different ballot measures, in an attempt to salvage as much of the law as possible.
Three sources told The Dispatch yesterday that Kasich administration officials and other Republicans who support Senate Bill 5 are talking to the Ohio Ballot Board about presenting the issue to voters so that they would cast votes on its many provisions, instead of a simple up or down vote on the law [...]
We Are Ohio announced yesterday that it will deliver the signatures to Secretary of State Jon Husted and hold a celebratory parade on Wednesday.
But how the referendum is posed to voters is up to the Ballot Board, a five-member board chaired by Husted and controlled by Republicans.
“I think that’s an issue the ballot board will look at,” said one source with knowledge of the discussions. “(The) ballot board has to figure (out) a lot of things – how many issues, language, and issue numbers. (Dividing the bill) is something being discussed.”
This seems like Calvinball on a massive scale. The signatures gathered posited a repeal of SB 5, not each piece one by one. That’s what the state wants to vote on, given the fact that they collected three times as many signatures as were needed. But as mentioned above, the Republican Secretary of State controls the Ballot Board, and as such will have the opportunity to set the rules. So you can toss the norms out the window.
UPDATE: It appears Secretary of State Husted has rejected this. Good.