Selecting Commission Members
When we speak about our redistricting proposal to members of the general public, one set of questions always comes up. Who selects the commission? How can we eliminate partisanship? What makes a citizens’ commission better than what we do now?
Redistricting is left up to the states and it’s no surprise that states have developed a number of methods to carry out the responsibility. Some processes are political (governors or legislators drawing maps or appointing advisory panels subject to the legislature). Some states hand the work over to non-partisan staff (the state demographer or an impartial administrative agency). More recently, states have established independent commissions made up of citizens selected in a manner to reduce partisanship and diversify the representation.
None of these processes is perfect. Any potential member can have some partisan leanings or ideas. To reduce the chance of bias or partisan dysfunction, an appointment process that strives for a balanced makeup of the commission is key.