Each redistricting dataset merges the electoral data the SWDB collected and processed over the preceding decade with the most current census data (PL94-171). The result is a census block level dataset that allows for longitudinal analysis of electoral data over time on the same unit of analysis. Electoral data consist of the Statements of Vote (SOV) and Statements of Registration (SOR) for each statewide election. These data are collected from the Registrars of Voters for each of the 58 California counties with each election.
The SWDB collects the Statement of Vote and the Statement of Registration along with various geography files from each of the 58 counties for every statewide election. The Statement of Vote is a precinct level dataset and precincts in California change frequently between elections. The goal of the SWDB is to make election data available that can be compared over time, on the same unit of analysis – a precinct, a census block or a census tract.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)-August 3, 2012
Author: PATRICK MARLEY
Madison - Republicans might have prevailed in a lawsuit over election maps if their redistricting team had listened to one of its lawyers, new records show.
Attorney Jim Troupis argued in July 2011 for maps that took into account citizenship when calculating Latino voting strength on Milwaukee's south side, but another attorney - Eric McLeod - rejected the idea, and Republicans ultimately did not go along with it. Eight months later, the state lost a lawsuit on that very issue, resulting in a court-drawn map and nearly $200,000 in additional costs for taxpayers.
Troupis and McLeod were part of a team of attorneys and consultants who were paid $431,000 by taxpayers to draw maps that could pass legal muster.
Emails showing the internal debates among Republican lawyers were released this week after Senate Democrats gained the majority and took hold of the legal files and made them available to reporters. The files take up three banker boxes and several computer discs, and Democrats are putting them online so the public can easily view them.
Some of the emails appear never to have been released before. If they were not, it could spell legal woes for Republicans because of a raft of court orders to release material earlier this year. During that earlier fight over records, a panel of federal judges fined attorneys for lawmakers about $17,500 for filing frivolous motions to block the release of records.
"I have some very serious con- cerns about whether the Legislature was forthcoming about the documents they produced and the representations they made to the court," said Peter Earle, an attorney for immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, which sued over the maps.
Earle and Doug Poland, an attorney for a group of Democrats who also sued over the maps, said they did not recall seeing the two email chains in which Troupis, McLeod and others discuss citizenship.
Earle and Poland are checking whether they had been produced during the lawsuit.
"They appear to go right to the heart of the Voting Rights Act claims," Poland said. "It's hard to believe we would have missed something like that." Troupis, McLeod and another attorney involved in the case did not respond to questions Thursday on whether the material had been previously released.
The state paid Voces $185,500 because it lost the case, and is in negotiations with the group Poland represents over paying its legal fees. All told, taxpayers have paid $1.6 million so far to draw the maps and contend with litigation.
Every 10 years, states must draw new maps of legislative and congressional districts to account for population changes recorded by the U. S.
census. Republicans controlled all of state government last year and drew maps that greatly benefited them.
The two groups sued, and in March a panel of three federal judges ruled that two Assembly districts on Milwaukee's south side violated the voting rights of Latinos.
Lawmakers based their calculations on the voting strength of Latinos in the district by tallying the number of Latinos in the districts who were of voting age. But the court found they should have looked at the number of Latinos of voting age who were citizens, because only citizens can vote. The judges then redrew the lines for those maps based on a proposal by the groups that sued.
The newly released emails show Troupis, one of the attorneys hired by the Republicans, shared those same concerns, as did the Republican National Committee.
"In talking with RNC, they have concerns about citizenship and its impact," Troupis wrote to two legislative aides on July 15, 2011, the day after a public hearing on the maps.
The email exchange was forwarded to others, and McLeod expressed reservations about Troupis'approach in an email the next day to the aides and attorney Ray Taffora.
"I am concerned Jim is trying (to) reassess issues we have already resolved," McLeod wrote. "Now is not the time for that." Troupis pressed the issue again the next day, writing in an email to the aides and attorneys that "as I had speculated, the citizenship numbers are important." "Sorry to bother you on a Sunday, but as they say this could be the 'ball game,'" Troupis wrote.
McLeod responded that it was "unlikely" a court would rule against the maps, adding, "I would have a hard time supporting a change at this stage of the game. I think we have made the right decision and should go with it." Two days later, the then GOP-controlled Senate approved the maps with a smaller Latino population than that recommended by one of its consultants, but that had the support of the group Hispanics for Leadership.
Within months, the court ruled against the state and redrew the maps taking citizenship into account.
"Had the Legislature considered citizenship in calculating what would be an effective voting majority, it would have made our challenge very difficult," Earle said.
The work by McLeod, Troupis and others was done under contracts between Michael Best & Friedrich and the Legislature, but Republicans and the firm did not give Democrats access to the attorneys or the legal file.
This month, Democrats took over the state Senate after winning a recall election.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) demanded the case file, and Michael Best turned it over this week.
Democrat records sought
Meanwhile Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) asked Miller to make available all redistricting records for about $300,000 in work done for Democrats since 2007.
"If Senator Miller truly believes in the public's right to know, he'll disclose those records," Fitzgerald said in a statement.
Miller said he would make records from 2007 and 2008 available. He did not say he was releasing records from 2009 and 2010, noting both parties had redistricting attorneys at that time and he had not sought material from that period for Republicans.