Today Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced The Redistricting Reform Act of 2015 to end the gerrymandering of congressional districts by requiring that they be drawn by an unbiased citizen commission. In most states, redistricting creates a clear conflict of interest that allow the foxes to guard the henhouse. Members of the state legislature manipulate congressional maps behind closed doors for partisan advantage, incumbent protection, and sometimes even to create a district for themselves.
Several states have created an unbiased process in which citizens of different parties with no personal stake in the outcome draw districts based on fair representation rather than politics. In these states, citizen commissions hear public input about the changing shape of communities and conduct deliberations in public. The House bill would make this a national model to reform how congressional districts are drawn and end a redistricting process that makes it harder for American voters to hold Members of Congress accountable on Election Day. U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), and Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) sponsored this bill.
The Redistricting Reform Act of 2015 includes:
- Requirement that every state establish an independent, multi-party redistricting commission to draw Congressional district maps.
- Prohibition against allowing individuals with conflicts of interests – such as lobbyists, political donors or party operatives – to serve on the commissions.
- Requirement that commissions reflect the diversity of the state and operate transparently.
- Criteria for drawing districts, mandating that they:
• have equal population in accordance with the U.S.
• comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965;
• be geographically contiguous and compact, as well as have
boundaries that minimize the division of any community of
interest, municipality, county, or neighborhood.
- Ample notice from the commission and opportunity for the public to provide input and engage in the redistricting process.
See a chart detailing how these commissions would work.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections