Citizen and Legislative Efforts to Reform Redistricting in 2019
In 2021, voting districts will be redrawn across the country. Grassroots organizations, advocacy groups, and state legislatures around the country are working to change the way it's done.
In 2018, five states successfully reformed the way their district lines are drawn. That momentum has carried over into 2019, with a flurry of activity as voters and lawmakers across the country work to pass reforms before electoral boundaries are next redrawn in 2021.
In October 2018, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge certified the ballot title for a proposal to revise the state’s redistricting process, clearing the way for the petitioners to collect signatures. The proposed constitutional amendment would create a seven-member citizen commission to draw congressional and state legislative districts, and prohibit drawing districts for partisan advantage or to harm the voting strength of minority groups.
Supporters will need to collect signatures from at least 15 counties totaling 10% of the number of votes cast in the next gubernatorial election to submit to the secretary of state for the initiative to appear on the 2020 ballot.
In November 2018, Governor Larry Hogan convened the Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District to redraw the contested district before the 2020 election. After soliciting public comment and proposed maps, the nonpartisan commission will certify a new congressional plan to be introduced and voted on during the 2019 legislative session.
Several legislative proposals are currently in play in New Hampshire, including an act to create an advisory commission that was passed by the state house with bipartisan approval. The proposal would also put in place rules to make line drawing fairer, including protections for people of color and communities of interest, as well as a ban on partisan gerrymandering.
Learn more about the proposal here.
Legislators in New Jersey have gone back to the drawing board after withdrawing a proposed constitutional amendment to reform redistricting earlier in the session. Citizens and advocates alike opposed the original amendment and are encouraging the legislature to put in place strong safeguards against partisan gerrymandering in any future proposals.
Represent Oklahoma, a nonpartisan citizens group, is seeking a state constitutional change that would transfer redistricting duties from the legislature to an independent, nonpartisan commission. The group supports a proposal that would require bipartisan approval of maps and provide clear criteria to preserve communities of interest and prohibit drawing districts with partisan motivations.
The group hopes to implement a new process before the next redistricting cycle in 2021.
Ahead of the next round of redistricting in 2021, Governor Tom Wolf convened the Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform Commission, a group of legislators, citizens, and advocates, to study and recommend best redistricting practices.
The Commission is tasked with collecting public comment and crafting recommendations for the governor and legislature by August 2019.
In February, the Virginia legislature approved a proposed constitutional amendment to create an advisory commission for congressional and state legislative lines. The amendment received unanimous support in the Virginia Senate and passed 83-15 in the House of Delegates. In order to get the amendment on the 2020 ballot, the General Assembly must pass an identical resolution during the next legislative session.
The amendment is supported by OneVirginia2021, a campaign to build momentum for a constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering in Virginia before voters in 2020.
Learn more about the proposal here.