Redistricting Reform: Where do we go from here?
On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court ruled in Common Cause v. Rucho that partisan gerrymandering represents a political question that the federal courts cannot police. This decision turned the fight for fair representation to the state and local levels of government.
Every 10 years after the census, legislators are supposed to redraw districts to reflect changes in population and ensure that everyone is fairly represented. However, through this redistricting process politicians all over the country have packed and cracked communities for their own political gain.
In Georgia, politicians have done an exceptional job at using redistricting to protect their own power and eliminate the competition. This is called gerrymandering and it’s a threat to our democracy. For some, the fight for fair districts in Georgia seems like a pipe dream. Though the shifting political climate has some Democratic hopefuls ready to upset Republican controlled districts, Republicans believe they’ll maintain the majority in 2020.
Some states have turned to nonpartisan independent redistricting commissions to take up redistricting efforts to ensure that power flows from the people to the representatives. In the last legislative session, Democrats in the House and Senate introduced resolutions to create an independent redistricting body made up of Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters. Neither resolution received a hearing.
Common Cause Georgia is pushing a statewide educational tour surrounding the issues and solutions to help alleviate gerrymandering. This will be an opportunity for folks to attend a town hall to learn about redistricting reform and a discussion of Georgia’s new voting system. It’s a statewide initiative where we will ask people to attend the town hall, sign the pledge, attend a meeting with their state legislators, and to continue to apply pressure to their representatives.
Common Cause is taking a grassroots approach to encourage local elected officials to take up a resolution for a local independent redistricting commission. As of today, 54 jurisdictions have established or used local redistricting commissions. The push for these redistricting commissions shows the power that the people have. This fall, Common Cause Georgia and our partners will push representatives to sign our pledge to “support and advance fair redistricting that is transparent, non-discriminatory, and politically impartial.”