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Policy Solution

Creating Strong Rules for Drawing Maps

Summary: Reforming the redistricting process is not only about who draws the maps, but the rules they have to follow.

  • Brennan Center for Justice
Published: April 5, 2019

Introduction

Discussions about reforming the redistricting process often focus on the question of who draws the maps. But just as important, if not more so, are the rules that map drawers have to follow — regardless of whether it is a commission or lawmakers drawing them.
 
Right now, in most states, there are relatively few rules governing how lines are drawn. This is especially the case for congressional districts. Worse, what rules there are often conflict with one another. Good-intentioned map drawers are left without guidance, and those who want to manipulate the process for political gain face few constraints blocking them from doing so.
 
Providing clear rules in order of priority can go a long way in ensuring that maps reflect community input and preferences, protect minority communities, and are free from political manipulation.
 
The good news for Americans interested in reforming the process in their states is that successful reforms around the country offer models and lessons from which to build. This annotated guide offers model language for building strong reforms.