Diverse Coalition of Community Organizations Call for Fair and Transparent Redistricting Process

Yesterday, a coalition of more than 20 community organizations sent a letter to the state’s Reapportionment Commission outlining a list of demands to achieve a fair and transparent redistricting process. The coalition asked that the redistricting process allow for robust debate and public participation with statewide public meetings accessible in multiple languages, in person, and online. The Reapportionment Commission will hold its first meeting tomorrow, Thursday, September 9.

“Rhode Islanders deserve a fair and accountable redistricting process in which they can meaningfully participate,” said John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island. “This process will impact our elections and the people’s voting power for the next decade. The Reapportionment Commission must take all necessary steps to make sure the new district maps are drawn in a fair and transparent process the public can easily understand.”

The coalition also highlighted the importance of a process that invites the community to submit fair maps for consideration, allows the public to review and provide input on proposed maps, and the need to end prison gerrymandering.

“The League of Women Voters believes in a democracy that is powered by the people and is for the people, all the people,” said Jane Koster, president of League of Women Voters Rhode Island. “People Powered Fair Maps is our League program that promotes educational and engagement efforts to prepare our citizens to participate in the redistricting cycle. Tools to engage people in the process of submitting their own maps to the Commission is necessary. Transparency is most important and community interests are prioritized. Follow the lead of the people.”

Key highlights of the coalitions demands to the commission include:

  • Allowing the public to participate remotely because of the pandemic
  • Providing simultaneous interpretation in Spanish
  • Inviting the public to submit their own maps and make public the data used by the commission to draw its maps
  • Ranking the criteria the Commission uses to draw maps, and release a written explanation accompanying any maps it releases
  • Ending the practice of prison gerrymandering by assigning those held at the ACI to their home districts

A fair redistricting process would be bipartisan, transparent, and would include multiple opportunities for robust public engagement before and after proposed maps are drawn. A fair process would mean elected officials would not be allowed to cherry-pick their voters and would instead give voters the power to choose their leaders, requiring the politicians to earn every vote in every corner of the state.

A link to the letter is available here.