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Americans Are Transforming the Redistricting Process

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.

Published: June 19, 2019

In 2018, voters in five states (Color­ado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah) passed reforms by over­whelm­ing bipar­tisan margins to make future mapdraw­ing fairer and more trans­par­ent. That momentum has carried forward into 2019 with redis­trict­ing reforms passing legis­latures in both New Hamp­shire and Virginia. And active efforts are under­way in other states around the coun­try to improve the redis­trict­ing process ahead of the next round of mapdraw­ing in 2021.

Here’s a round-up of some of the key efforts around the coun­try.

New Hamp­shire

In June, the New Hamp­shire legis­lature approved  an act creat­ing an advis­ory commis­sion and strong map draw­ing rules, includ­ing protec­tions for people of color and communit­ies of interest, as well as a ban on partisan gerry­man­der­ing.

The bill passed the Senate unan­im­ously and received bipar­tisan support in the House. On August 9, Governor Chris Sununu vetoed the bill, and on Septem­ber 18, the House fell short of the votes needed to over­ride the veto.

Learn more about the proposal  here.

Virginia

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.

Pennsylvania

Citizen and advoc­ate coali­tions are pursu­ing reforms to the redis­trict­ing process in Pennsylvania, where several legis­lat­ive propos­als are currently in play.

Governor Tom Wolf’s Redis­trict­ing Reform Commis­sion finished collect­ing public comment and will report its recom­mend­a­tions for best redis­trict­ing prac­tices to the governor and legis­lature in August 2019.

Arkan­sas

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.

New Jersey

Legis­lat­ors in New Jersey have gone back to the draw­ing board after  with draw­ing  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.

Mary­land

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 from around the state, the nonpar­tisan commis­sion released a final report recom­mend­ing a new congres­sional plan.