2018 Reason, Reform & Redistricting Conference

Day 1: Friday, January 25, 2019

11:00 am:  Registration and Lunch

11:45 am – 12:00 pm:  Welcome: Fritz Mayer

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm:   Pursuing an End to Partisan Gerrymandering in North Carolina
North Carolina experts and political observers discuss the highlights and low-lights of North Carolina politics in light of the 2018 election and the fight for fair maps.

  • Jane Pinsky, Director, North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform (moderator)
  • Fmr. Rep. Jonathan Jordan
  • Tom Ross, North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform
  • Erin Byrd, Executive Director, Blueprint NC
  • Bob Phillips, Executive Director, Common Cause North Carolina

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm:   State of the Nation
The midterm elections have changed the field of play when it comes to redistricting and other good government reforms. What happened? What did we learn? Where do we go from here? National political and policy experts will discuss where things stand post-midterms and what to anticipate moving forward.

  • Kareem Crayton, Executive Director, Southern Coalition for Social Justice (moderator)
  • Kathay Feng, National Redistricting Director, Common Cause
  • Jessica Jones Capparell, Policy and Legislative Affairs Senior Manager, League of Women Voters
  • Arturo Vargas, Executive Director, NALEO

2:00 pm – 2:15 pm            BREAK

2:15 pm – 3:15 pm:   An Overview of Pending and Upcoming Gerrymandering Litigation
Hear from the legal teams on the forefront of the fight for fair maps in the courts as they discuss their strategies, challenges and paths to success. No previous legal expertise needed!

  • Michael Li, Senior Counsel – Democracy Program, Brennan Center (moderator)
  • Emmet Bondurant, Partner, Bondurant, Mixson & Ellmore, LLP
  • Allison Riggs, Staff Attorney – Voting Rights Project, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
  • Michael Kimberly, Partner, Mayer Brown, LLP
  • Tom Wolf, Counsel – Democracy Program, Brennan Center

3:30 pm – 4:45 pm:   How to Measure the Impact of Partisan Gerrymandering
Common Cause’s Partisan Gerrymandering Writing Contest challenged the best and brightest to come up with innovative approaches to the unique legal, social science and other challenges we face in the fight for fair maps. Come hear their solutions!

  • Jonathan Mattingly, Professor of Mathematics, Duke University (moderator)
  • Suzanne Almeida, Redistricting and Representation Counsel, Common Cause (moderator)
  • Samuel Wang, Princeton Gerrymandering Project
  • Michael D. McDonald and Dan Magleby, Binghamton University
  • John Curiel and Tyler Steelman, University of North Carolina

3:30 pm – 4:45 pm:   Shaping the 2020 Census
The 2020 Census is fast approaching and this panel will address the policy, legal, and practical challenges we face as we advocate for a full and accurate count. Hear from experts, organizers, and former census director Vincent Barabba as they discuss what needs to happen and how you can help.

  • Keshia Morris, Census Project, Common Cause (moderator)
  • Vincent Barabba, former Census Director
  • Beth Lynk, Census Campaign Director, Leadership Conference
  • Tamieka Atkins, Executive Director, ProGeorgia
  • John Marion, Executive Director, Common Cause Rhode Island

4:50 pm – 5:10 pm:    Fighting Gerrymandering in the U.S. Congress
U.S. Congressman David Price (D – North Carolina 4th District) will discuss congressional level efforts to eradicate gerrymandering and provide insights on how experts and advocates can help.

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm:   Reception, details TBA


Day 2: Saturday, January 26, 2019

8:00 am – 9:00 am:   Breakfast and Registration

9:00 am – 10:00 am:   North Carolina State of Play
As the home to litigation on the congressional and state maps, a robust grassroots organizing campaign for reform, and a difficult political climate, North Carolina presents unique challenges and opportunities for redistricting reform. North Carolinians in the thick of the fight discuss their strategies to move reform forward, the lessons they’ve learned thus far, and what they want everyone else to understand about North Carolina.

  • Bob Phillips, Executive Director, Common Cause North Carolina (moderator)
  • Mayor Vivian Jones, Wake Forest, North Carolina
  • Tom Ross, North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform
  • Jane Pinsky, Director, North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform
  • Tomas Lopez, Executive Director, Democracy NC

10:15 am – 11:15 am:   Lessons Learned from State Victories
This year, voters in an unprecedented five states passed reforms to make redistricting a fairer and more transparent process. We’ll examine the organizing and communications strategies that citizen-activists implemented to win. Hear from local advocates and organizers about how they won, what happens next, and what they wish they knew before they started.

  • Dan Vicuna, National Redistricting Manager, Common Cause (moderator)
  • Katie Fahey, Executive Director, Voters Not Politicians (Michigan)
  • Curtis Hubbard, Fair Maps Colorado
  • Catherine Turcer, Executive Director, Common Cause Ohio
  • Sean Soendker Nicholson, Campaign Director, Clean Missouri

10:15 am – 11:15 am:   Building the Evidence of Partisan Gerrymandering
Successful partisan gerrymandering claims require a combination of social science metrics, personal stories, and legal analysis. Leading lawyers and social scientists discuss their strategies for how to build a strong case, establishing standing, and using statistical evidence.

  • Ben Thorpe, Associate, Bondurant, Mixson & Ellmore, LLP (moderator)
  • Jowei Chen, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan
  • Edwin Speas, Partner, Poyner Spruill
  • Allison Riggs, Senior Attorney – Voting Rights Project, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
  • Jonathan Mattingly, Professor of Mathematics, Duke University

11:30 am – 12:30 pm:   LUNCH PROGRAM: A People-Centric Perspective on Redistricting

  • Kathay Feng, National Redistricting Director, Common Cause
  • David Daley, author of “Ratf**ked: Why Your Voice Doesn’t Count”
  • Faulkner Fox, author and creative writing instructor at Duke University
  • Sam Levine, Huffington Post

12:45 pm – 1:45 pm:    Fighting Gerrymandering with the First Amendment
With the new composition of the Supreme Court, how can advocates use First Amendment-based legal strategies to win? Legal experts will discuss a variety of  strategies rooted in the First Amendment and how they can be used in the context of partisan gerrymandering litigation.

  • Justin Levitt, Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Law, Loyola Law School (moderator)
  • Emmet Bondurant, Partner, Bondurant, Mixson & Ellmore, LLP
  • Daniel Tokaji, Professor of Constitutional Law, Ohio State University

12:45 pm – 1:45 pm:   Racial Equity and Redistricting
How should we integrate racial equity into discussions about redistricting reform? Hear from advocates, organizers and mapmakers on what strategies have worked for them, what work is left to do, and how the redistricting reform movement benefits from true diversity and inclusion.

  • Celina Stewart, Director of Advocacy and Litigation, League of Women Voters (moderator)
  • Tram Nguyen, Co-Executive Director, New Virginia Majority
  • Micah Sims, Executive Director, Common Cause Pennsylvania
  • La’Meshia Whittington-Kaminski, North Carolina Organizer, Friends of the Earth

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm:   Collecting Public Input in the Redistricting Process
How do we ensure that districts reflect the true boundaries of communities? We ask community members! Come learn about public education and organizing strategies to collect and reflect back community input on district boundaries.

  • Reggie Weaver, Civic Engagement Coordinator, Common Cause North Carolina (moderator)
  • Vincent Barabba, California Redistricting Commissioner
  • Ivanna Gonzales, Deputy Director, BluePrint NC
  • Leonard Gorman, Executive Director, Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm:   The Latest Mapping Technology
Although redistricting is traditionally done behind closed doors, new technology is making it possible for everyday people to engage in the process. What are some strategies to leverage this new technology? Hear from panelists who are tackling this issue head on, experience the technology first hand, and workshop strategies that could work in your community. Bring your laptop – this session provides the opportunity for hands on mapping experience!

  • Kathay Feng, National Redistricting Director, Common Cause (moderator)
  • Blake Esselstyn,  Principal, EQV Maps
  • David Thornburgh, President & CEO, Committee of Seventy

3:15 pm – 4:00 pm:   What’s Next? 
What have we learned and where do we go from here? Fritz Mayer, Duke POLIS and Kathay Feng, Common Cause will discuss takeaways and next steps from the conference.