Gerrymander Gazette: Making a new redistricting calendar work for democracy
As we move closer toward the delivery of census population data to the states around September 30, 2021 and the start of redistricting, activity is picking up across the country to ensure that this process is as fair and transparent and possible. As a result, we will provide more frequent updates on the work Common Cause and our partner organizations are doing to slay the gerrymander.
Trainings and Events
- In Illinois, Common Cause has been actively engaged in advocacy at regional meetings of the Senate and House Redistricting Committees. Through numerous hearings, staff and volunteers have testified and submitted witness slips advocating that legislators wait for new census data, encourage and gather public input, and consider shifting 2022 primary election dates and signature deadlines. Read Common Cause Illinois Executive Director Jay Young’s March 25 testimony and former intern Gavin Johnson’s March 30 testimony.
- The Center for Social Innovation at UC Riverside and California Common Cause hosted a webinar on April 6, 2021 titled Redistricting in California Workshop: Mapping, Demographics, & the Law. Participants discussed the basics of redistricting, detailed the Voting Rights Act, and demonstrated two different community mapping programs.
- On April 15, 2021 at 1:00 pm ET, join State Voices and the League of Women Voters for a training to review key digital organizing concepts and best practices that you can apply to your grassroots redistricting efforts. Register here.
- On April 29, 2021, the League of Women Voters will host events around the country to increase public awareness and engagement around the redistricting process, and make sure the public’s voice is heard. Learn more at the Day of Action landing page and supporters’ toolkit page.
- Common Cause hosted a press briefing on April 7 titled The Risks of Rushing Redistricting. Common Cause and experts explained the adjusted census data releases and the impact on states based on their redistricting or election deadlines. The briefing also covered the different types of data and what each can or cannot be used to do (ACS, Apportionment, Legacy, and Redistricting). Watch previous briefings on the risk of extreme partisan gerrymanders, community-created fair maps, and communities of color as communities of interest.
- New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill, SB 304, that will create a seven-person advisory citizens redistricting commission to accept public testimony and draw maps to recommend to the legislature. Reform victories in the year redistricting will take place are no small feat, so congratulations to New Mexico advocates who made this happen.
- The Oregon Supreme Court granted the state legislature until September 27, 2021 to submit initial redistricting plans. Prior to this, The Oregon Constitution required legislators to submit maps by July 1, a deadline that will be impossible to meet given the Census Bureau’s new schedule for delivering population data.
- Colorado’s congressional redistricting commission chair was removed as chairman by a unanimous vote of fellow commissioners for peddling false content on social media related to the 2020 election. He will remain on the commission.
- The Iowa Supreme Court announced last week that it is willing to take on the responsibility of drawing districts if the legislature misses the deadline for approving districts.
- The groups that pushed through constitutional amendments to end gerrymandering in Florida and then successfully sued the Legislature to have the Legislature’s redistricting maps thrown out in the last cycle, are asking lawmakers to sign a pledge promising an open, fair, and lawful effort this time.
- From New York Magazine: “Why Republicans Think They Can Regain Power Without Repudiating Trumpism”. Spoiler alert: gerrymandering.
Resources, Materials, Tools, and Guides
- Common Cause’s national redistricting and representation team released Runaway Redistricting, a report detailing these impacts on all 50 states with state-specific recommendations to address the new schedule.
- MALDEF and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC released a preliminary report titled Impact of Differential Privacy and the 2020 Census on Latinos, Asian Americans and Redistricting. Differential privacy is a mathematical method that adds “statistical noise” to published tables in a way that protects each respondent’s identity. Statistical noise or false information is used to alter data so that the link between the data and a specific person cannot be certain.
- Represent.US released a report called the Gerrymandering Threat Index, which examines the likelihood that a state’s residents could see their voting districts unfairly manipulated.
- The Prison Policy Initiative spotlights a recent Boston Globe op-ed providing a concise explainer about why states and localities must act immediately to end prison gerrymandering before redistricting begins later this year.
This newsletter has been produced by Common Cause and compiled by Dan Vicuna. Subscribe to the Gerrymander Gazette here. For more information or to pass along news, contact Dan Vicuna.