Every 10 years, states re-draw the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts. Redistricting is supposed to reflect changes in population and ensure that everyone is fairly represented.
But politicians draw districts to give themselves or their party an unfair advantage. Common Cause believes voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.
We're working to create better ways to draw districts that fairly represent your state's communities, whether that is independent commissions, non-partisan state staff, or clear Constitutional rules for how lines should be drawn.
Who draws your congressional and state legislative districts?
Red: Independent Commission Orange: Politician Commission Green: Advisory Commission Purple: Backup Commission if Legislature fails to draw districts Gray: Legislature
Common Cause v. Rucho: Common Cause is the plaintiff in a challenge to North Carolina’s congressional map. After the map was struck down as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander last year, leaders in the legislature announced that they would redraw districts with the explicit intent to ensure that 10 of 13 remain in Republican control. Common Cause sued on the grounds that the new districts are an illegal partisan gerrymander. The trial took place the week of October 16, 2017. If we win at trial and in the U.S. Supreme Court, where the case will eventually go, this has the potential to end the gerrymandering of congressional districts nationwide. Check the Common Cause v. Rucho home page for more information.
Benisek v. Lamone:In a case originally brought by a Common Cause Maryland member, plaintiffs are challenging Maryland’s congressional map, stating that it represents an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Following the 2010 census, the Democratic governor and Democrats in the legislature successfully conspired to draw districts to eliminate one of the state’s two Republican members of Congress. After a unanimous procedural ruling in 2015 allowing the case to proceed to trial, the U.S. Supreme Court will now hear the merits of the case in early 2018. Common Cause filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court and at the early stages of the trial court process. The Supreme Court's somewhat surprising decision to take the case now suggests a strong willingness to address the problem of partisan gerrymandering before the 2020 census.
Gill v. Whitford: Last year, the Campaign Legal Center won a historic victory when a federal court struck down Wisconsin’s State Assembly map as an illegal partisan gerrymander. The U.S. Supreme Court heard Wisconsin’s appeal on October 3, 2017. Common Cause was one of the lead organizations in charge of managing amicus briefs supporting the plaintiffs’ efforts. The nine briefs we helped to organize demonstrate the broad and bipartisan support for an end to the manipulation of our legislative districts. A decision in this case is likely to come in the winter or spring of 2018.
In the States
Common Cause is leading the fight for fair representation all across the country. For more information on active reform campaigns, contact the following state leaders:
State Reform Efforts
California*: California Common Cause has partnered with the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law to provide resources to local governments that are interested in creating independent citizen redistricting commissions to draw their districts. See www.localredistricting.org for more information. Contact Nicolas Heidorn, California Common Cause policy and legislation counsel.
Georgia: Common Cause organized a Gerrymander Tour around the state and is working with coalition partners to pass legislation that would reform the process for drawing Georgia’s districts. Contact Sarah Henderson, Common Cause Georgia Executive Director.
Indiana: After successfully advocating for the creation of a legislative study committee to recommend reforms to the legislature, Common Cause Indiana is working with legislators to create protections against political manipulation of the state’s legislative maps. Contact Julia Vaughn, Common Cause Indiana policy analyst.
Maryland: The Tame the Gerrymander coalition continues to use fun events to shine a spotlight on a serious problem that has resulted in the most gerrymandered congressional district in the country. Contact Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Common Cause Maryland executive director.
Michigan*: Voters Not Politicians is gathering signatures for a 2018 ballot initiative to create an independent citizen commission to draw congressional and state legislative districts.
Missouri*: Clean Missouri is gathering signatures for a 2018 ballot initiative that would assign the task of redistricting to a nonpartisan state demographer who would be required to draw districts that do not give one party an unfair advantage. The initiative also includes campaign finance and ethics provisions.
Minnesota: Common Cause Minnesota recently helped to defeat legislation that would have enshrined the legislature’s power to draw districts and is now organizing a coalition to pursue redistricting reform. Contact Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, Common Cause Minnesota executive director.
North Carolina: Common Cause North Carolina is a member of the End Gerrymandering Now coalition, a strong right-left coalition of unlikely allies who believe that political gerrymandering should play no role in redistricting. Contact Jane Pinsky, director of the North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform.
Ohio*:Building on the momentum of state legislative redistricting reform Ohioans passed in 2015 with strong bipartisan voter support, Common Cause Ohio is now working ongathering signatures for a 2018 congressional redistricting reform initiative as a leader of Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition. Contact Catherine Turcer, Common Cause Ohio policy analyst Executive Director.
Pennsylvania: A bipartisan and bicameral group of legislators announced the formation of a working group seeking to draft and pass comprehensive redistricting legislation.Common Cause Pennsylvania is a leader in Fair Districts PA, a broad coalition of organizations dedicated to ending gerrymandering in the state through advocacy and public education.
Wisconsin: Common Cause Wisconsin has been active in public education and advocacy in support of empower nonpartisan state legislative staff to draw districts in the state. Contact Jay Heck, Common Cause Wisconsin Executive Director.
*An asterisk indicates that a state has a direct democracy ballot initiative option.
The public’s growing awareness of – and anger at – how elected officials have rigged congressional and legislative elections across the country by manipulating district lines is fueling a national movement for independent...
Common Cause Redistricting Manager Dan Vicuña joined Sarasota (FL) Community Radio on Oct. 27 to chat about gerrymandering, explain the legal challenges facing partisan redistricting, and discuss the future of the fight...