In America, elections are supposed to represent the will of the people, not politicians.
But partisan politicians manipulate voting maps to keep themselves and their party in power. We need to reform the rules and make the process of drawing districts impartial and transparent so our government is of, by, and for the people.
Every 10 years, states re-draw the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts. Redistricting is supposed to reflect changes in population and ensure that everyone is fairly represented.
But politicians draw districts to give themselves or their party an unfair advantage. Common Cause believes voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.
We’re working to create better ways to draw districts that fairly represent your state’s communities. We support reforms including the creation of independent redistricting commissions, the hiring of non-partisan state staff, and clear, constitutional rules for how lines should be drawn. Read our redistricting principles.
In the Courts
Common Cause is leading the fight for fair representation in the courts. We are plaintiffs in Common Cause v. Rucho, the first ever federal court decision striking down a congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The Supreme Court is likely to hear our case in the next term. We have led the amicus brief strategy in several U.S. Supreme Court cases.
In the States
Common Cause is leading the fight for fair representation at the ballot box, and at the grassroots in many states. In several states, redistricting reform will be on the November 2018 ballot:
California*: From drafting to passage, California Common Cause led the successful fight to create California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission. We’re now partnered with the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law to provide resources to local governments that are interested in bringing that reform to the local level. The City of Long Beach could create a citizens redistricting commission to draw City Council districts if residents pass Measure DDD in November. Read more about the Long Beach proposal here and go to www.localredistricting.org for more information on the Local Redistricting Project. Contact Nicolas Heidorn, California Common Cause policy and legislation counsel.
Colorado*: Colorado Common Cause has endorsed two ballot measures that would create citizen redistricting commissions to draw state legislative and congressional boundaries in Colorado. The Colorado State Legislature placed measures Y and Z on the ballot with by unanimous votes. Contact Amanda Gonzalez, Colorado Common Cause executive director.
Michigan*: Voters Not Politicians gathered almost 450,000 signatures for a 2018 ballot initiative to create an independent citizen commission to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Common Cause supported the effort by organizing and filing an amicus brief in the Michigan Supreme Court with former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.).
Missouri*: Clean Missouri submitted signatures for a 2018 ballot initiative that would assign redistricting to a nonpartisan state demographer who would be required to draw districts that do not give one party an unfair advantage. The initiative also includes campaign finance and ethics provisions.
Utah*: Better Boundaries succeeded in placing an initiative on the 2018 Utah ballot that would create a citizens advisory commission to draw districts in the state. The legislature must approve the plan and has the option to draw its own map instead, but the measure empowers a state court to strike down the legislature’s plan if it does not adhere to the nonpartisan criteria the initiative mandates.
Common Cause’s Partisan Gerrymandering Writing Competition is generating important scholarship and making a difference in court. Common Cause sponsors a writing competition to generate academic papers useful to litigators to make the case that partisan gerrymandering violates the U.S. Constitution. One winner served as an expert witness in Common Cause v. Rucho. After a federal court ruled that Virginia’s congressional map was an illegal racial gerrymander, we collaborated with another set of winners to submit a brief to the court. This brief, the only one of its kind, guided the court expert chosen to redraw districts by assessing the partisan fairness of proposed replacement maps the public submitted.