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Litigation We’re Watching

Moore v. Harper – (U.S. Supreme Court, No. 21-1271). In early 2022, the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the legislatively adopted maps for state legislative and congressional districts. After rejecting a second version of congressional map submitted by the legislature, the court ultimately adopted congressional maps drawn by court-appointed special masters. Oral argument before the US Supreme Court on December 7, 2022 debated the question whether the Elections Clause in the United States Constitution (art. I, § 4, cl. 1) requires only a “legislature” to adopt a congressional map, or whether a state court may create and impose a map of its own design. Decision will be issued before the end of the term (June 2023).

News from Election and Ethics Agencies

Fair Political Practices Commission News – On January 1, 2023, a new state law became operative. The new law, SB 1439, prohibits local elected officials from soliciting, accepting, or directing campaign contributions of more than $250 from a party or participant or their agent involved in certain proceedings pending before the official’s agency and for 12 months after the agency renders a decision on the matter. In December, the Fair Political Practices Commission issued an opinion stating that contributions made or received in 2022 are not subject to SB 1439.

New Legislation

Federal Legislation – H.R. 2617 (omnibus bill that includes amendments to the Electoral Count Act) was signed into law by President Biden on December 29. The bill does four main things: 1) clarifies that Election Day is Election Day (there will be one day of choosing electors, with no possibility of a later choice). Mandates that state rules for how the election is run must be on the books before Election Day; 2) adds a firm deadline for executives to submit certificates of ascertainment of appointment of electors (no more “safe harbor” or presumptions); 3) raises the objection threshold to one-fifth of the members of Congress (instead of one member of each house of Congress) for counting electoral votes cast in presidential elections; 4) clarifies that the role of the president of the Senate (typically, the vice president) is ceremonial and has no unilateral power to determine whether to count electoral votes.