Nebraska Coalition Groups Propose a Ballot Initiative for an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

LINCOLN, NEB. – March 6, 2020. Nebraskans for Independent Redistricting proposed a ballot initiative that would take the power to draw voting maps from politicians and give it to the people.

Yesterday the coalition group of nonpartisan Nebraska nonprofits filed paperwork for a petition drive. At the end of this month they will start gathering the required signatures to turn it into a ballot measure. If passed by voters in November, the proposal would create a nine-person independent citizens commission to oversee the redrawing of district maps.

In most states, state legislators and governors are charged with drawing state and legislative district maps following each U.S. Census once a decade. But a growing number of states including our neighbors Idaho and Colorado have adopted non-partisan or bipartisan independent redistricting commissions to reduce partisan gerrymandering. Common Cause believes it is an inherent conflict of interest for politicians to draw their own voting maps. Instead of people choosing their politicians, politicians are choosing their voters in Nebraska.

The amendment puts an end to lawmakers changing maps behind closed doors by requiring commission meetings to be held exclusively in public and requiring open sharing of maps and data being considered by the Commission. It also protects the process from undue partisanship by banning lobbyists, elected officials, party leaders, current and former political candidates from serving on the commission, as well as their immediate family.

Statement by Gavin Geis, executive director of Common Cause Nebraska
“In our elections, every voice should be heard, and every vote should count equally. But in our current system, politicians silence voters when they draw their own district lines to protect themselves and their party. We support the creation of this ballot initiative and strong enabling legislation to establish a redistricting commission that will end gerrymandering of congressional and state legislative districts. Redistricting affects our right to vote in too many ways to ignore the interest elected officials have in final voting maps that protect them and their party.”

Common Cause Nebraska is a coalition member of Nebraskans for Independent Redistricting which also includes the ACLU of Nebraska, Civic Nebraska, the Holland Children’s Movement and Nebraska Appleseed.
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