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 will begin on June 26, 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.
Whitford v. Gill: 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. Wisconsin has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and the case is likely to be heard in the high court later this year. Common Cause is one of the lead organizations in charge of managing amicus briefs supporting the plaintiffs’ efforts. It is essential that briefs demonstrate the broad and bipartisan support for an end to the manipulation of our legislative districts.
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 that would eliminate one of the state’s two Republican members of Congress. After a unanimous victory in the U.S. Supreme Court allowing the case to be heard, the case will proceed to trial this year. 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.
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. Contact Nicolas Heidorn, California Common Cause
Florida*: Common Cause supported a successful ballot initiative in 2010 to amend the Florida Constitution to ban partisan gerrymandering and will now determine how to further reform the system. Contact Liza McClenaghan, Common Cause Florida board chair.
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.
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