Gerrymander Gazette – October 2016

Gerrymander Gazette - October 2016

Welcome to the third edition of the Gerrymander Gazette, Common Cause’s newsletter on redistricting reform efforts around the country.

October 26, 2016

Does it really matter who draws districts? As it turns out, it does and we have the numbers to prove it.

Common Cause’s latest report, Restoring Voter Choice: How Citizen-Led Redistricting Can End the Manipulation of Our Elections, makes the case that a transparent and citizen-led redistricting process gives voters more choices at the polls.

This report shows that voters in congressional and state legislative districts legislators drew after the 2010 census are more likely to see only one major party candidate on the ballot this November 8 compared to voters who live in districts drawn by citizen redistricting commissions. It also shows that just one person from a major party filed to run in a higher percentage of districts drawn by legislators, effectively ending the campaign before the primary. Our major findings are below and you can view the entire report along with 50-state data at  

  • Legislators are almost four times more likely than citizen redistricting commissions to produce congressional districts that deny voters choices in a primary and more than twice as likely to produce districts that deny voters choices in the general election.
  • Only one major party entered candidates this year in 47 – almost one in five – of the 250 congressional districts drawn by state legislators. That means that districts that are home to approximately 33 million people will likely have only one major party choice in the congressional election.
  • Competition flourishes where congressional boundaries were drawn by a citizen redistricting commission. Voters in all but eight percent of the districts in states with citizen commissions will have two major party candidates on their congressional ballots next month.
  • Voter choices are even more limited in state legislative elections. Candidates from only one major party filed to run in 43 percent of legislative districts in states where legislators control redistricting. In citizen redistricting commission states, that number is 29 percent.
  • In 32 percent of the districts in those states, competition has been so thoroughly strangled that just one person sought a major party nomination this year, effectively ending the campaign before the primary. This total is 21 percent in citizen commission states.
  • In eight states, a majority in the next legislature has probably already been decided. Candidates from only one major party in those states filed to run in 60 percent or more of legislative districts drawn by politicians.
  • In seven states, this year’s state legislative campaigns effectively ended before the primary because only one major party candidate filed to run in more than half of the districts.
  • Several states stand out for the lack of choices they provide to voters. The 2016 “People’s No Choice Awards” go to:
    • Fewest choices in congressional elections: Arkansas
    • Fewest choices in state legislative general elections: Georgia
    • Fewest choices in state legislative primary elections: Massachusetts

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 at