WASHINGTON D.C. – Eric H. Holder, Jr, the 82nd Attorney General of the United States, and Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed the End Gerrymandering Pledge, a new initiative of Common Cause to advance fair redistricting reform that is transparent, nondiscriminatory and politically impartial in advance of the 2020 Census.
“The fight to end gerrymandering and support fair maps should not be a partisan issue,” said Holder. “The American people deserve fair elections decided by who has the best ideas, not which party was in charge of drawing the lines. It’s time to end the era of politicians choosing their voters and give that power back to the people where it belongs.”
The pledge launch came Tuesday during a dialogue between Holder and Schwarzenegger at the National Press Club. The two leading voices in the redistricting movement met following oral arguments in two landmark redistricting cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. Rucho v. Common Cause challenges a Republican gerrymander in North Carolina, while Lamone v. Benisek challenges a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland. Together, they are considered the best test cases for the Supreme Court to declare partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional.
“We pledge to do everything we can, to fight in every state, to leave no stone unturned in the fight against the 200-year-old scam of gerrymandering,” Schwarzenegger said. “The first three words of the Constitution are ‘We the people’ – not ‘we the politicians’ and it is time to give the people fair maps and the representation they deserve.”
The End Gerrymandering Pledge was developed by Common Cause to get prominent national leaders — including elected officials in every state and of all political persuasions — to commit to advancing non-partisan, non-discriminatory, and non-secretive redistricting across the United States. It targets state legislators who control map-drawing in most states, incumbent members of Congress who benefit from safe seats drawn by partisan map-makers and citizens who ultimately will hold their elected officials accountable for reforms.
Timing is critical. Redistricting is a once-in-a-decade process of drawing legislative and congressional district boundaries to ensure each district has equal population. Only 17 states have any checks and balances on redistricting, and only seven give the map-drawing power to citizens commissions. By far, most states give map-drawing power to the political party in power. Reforms need to be in place before the next round of map-drawing begins in the wake of the 2020 Census.
“As 2020 rapidly approaches, redistricting reform is more critical than ever,” said Kathay Feng, national redistricting director for Common Cause. “We are working to change laws, create technology, and engage citizens to draw districts that fairly represent a state’s communities and changing demographics. The pledge is designed to help hold elected officials accountable.”
The End Gerrymandering Pledge is national, but related advocacy work will target states with pending redistricting reform legislation or ballot measures. States such as Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia and others could pass legislation in 2019-20, while states like Oregon and Arkansas may go the ballot route.
To sign the pledge, visit www.endgerrymanderingpledge.org.
The EndGerrymanderingPledge.org Project is supported by Common Cause, The USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, National Redistricting Foundation, League of Women Voters of United States, and with special thanks to the Stiefel Freethought Foundation.