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’ve 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. On Election Day 2018, citizens voted YES to approve independent redistricting commissions in Santa Barbara County and the City of Long Beach. Common Cause worked closely with city officials and community leaders on the passage of Long Beach Measure DDD. 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: In the 2018 general election, Colorado residents voted overwhelmingly in support of Constitutional Amendments Y and Z, both winning 70% of the vote. These amendments will create two citizen redistricting commissions to draw state legislative and congressional boundaries in Colorado. Colorado Common Cause endorsed the two ballot measures and 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: On Election Day 2018, Michigan voters approved Proposal 2, creating an independent citizen commission to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Voters Not Politicians gathered more than 425,000 signatures for Proposal 2. 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: Missouri voters approved Amendment 1 on Election Day 2018, with 62% of voters supporting the reform. Clean Missouri led the campaign to pass Amendment 1. Starting in the next redistricting cycle, a nonpartisan state demographer will be assigned to draw Missouri’s state legislative districts and is required to draw districts that do not give any one party an unfair advantage. Amendment 1 also includes campaign finance, transparency, and ethics provisions.
Utah: We are still awaiting a final vote count to determine whether Better Boundaries succeeded in passing Proposition 4 on the 2018 Utah ballot. This initiative 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.