Community Redistricting Report Card: 5 Key Takeaways

Common Cause worked with the CHARGE coalition to provide a comprehensivereview of the 2020 redistricting cycle and a letter grade for each of the 50 states. Each grade is based on how community interests fared during the process. Here’s what you need to know.

The CHARGE (Coalition Hub Advancing Redistricting and Grassroots Engagement)
coalition includes Common Cause, APIAVote, Center for Popular Democracy, Fair Count, League of Women Voters, Mi Familia Vota, NAACP, National Congress of American Indians, and State Voices.

1. The Grading Process

To grade each state, Common Cause 

  • did a thorough review of each state’s redistricting process,
  • analyzed more than 120 detailed surveys 
  • and conducted more than 60 interviews with community organizers across the country.

The letter grade given to each state reflects the aggregate feedback and grades given by those surveyed and interviewed.

2. What Makes for Fair Redistricting

The following is criteria analyzed throughout the grading process to assess for fair redistricting:

  • Transparency: Were draft maps, meeting schedules, and other pertinent information shared with the public in a timely manner?
  • Opportunities for public input: Were there ways the community could provide feedback at different points in the process?
  • Willingness of decision makers to draw districts based on that input: Was community feedback incorporated in the final maps?
  • Adhering to nonpartisanship: Were maps drawn to benefit communities or political parties?
  • Empowerment of communities of color: Were communities of color empowered to meaningfully participate in the process and have their feedback incorporated into the final maps?
  • Policy choices such as rejecting prison gerrymandering,which unfairly inflates the voting power of communities with prisons 

3. Who got As and Who got Fs

Only California and Massachusetts earned an A- on their Community Redistricting Report Card.

Alabama, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin earned an F, due to egregious partisan and racial gerrymandering, and thus have a lot of work to do to improve their redistricting processes ahead of the next redistricting cycle.

4. Independent citizen redistricting commissions work

Independent citizen redistricting commissions are a group of people chosen to draw voting maps, completely independent of legislators. The structure of independent citizen redistricting commissions vary based on the state, but they aim to keep power in the hands of the people rather than politicians. They are significantly more likely to seek public feedback and integrate it into voting maps. This helps to create fair representation so that all people can have an equal say in our democracy. 

5. Communities of color are still being targeted and left out of the redistricting process

Politicians are gerrymandering marginalized communities into districts that limit their political power and are becoming more sophisticated in avoiding liability for Voting Rights Act violations.

How do we move forward? For one, our report shows that earlier funding goes a long way, especially for community-based organizations. Further, our report highlights that effective organizing can result in big wins for communities, despite intentional roadblocks impeding efforts. Looking forward, organizers expressed the importance of linking census messaging to redistricting, to start and maintain momentum for effective mobilization in the fight for fair maps.