Massive improvements needed in public education, outreach, and language access
TEXAS — Today, Common Cause, the leading anti-gerrymandering group, published a report grading the 2020 redistricting process in all 50 states from the view of the community. The comprehensive report evaluates public access, outreach, and education in each state based on an analysis of more than 120 detailed surveys and more than 60 interviews.
Local redistricting in Texas received a “C-” while state level redistricting was given a “D-” for lack of language accessibility, transparency, and public outreach and education about the overall process and its impact in Texans’ lives. Despite strong turnout at redistricting events, the Texas state legislature routinely held public meetings with less than 24 hours’ notice, created barriers to providing information in languages other than English, and did not provide virtual testimony options in both houses.
Every time Texas has redrawn districts since passage of the federal Voting Rights Act, federal courts have found that Texas lawmakers disenfranchised voters in one way or another. And we expect that trend to continue this year.
“If the goal of redistricting is to ensure all voters have access to free and fair elections, it’s no surprise Texas failed the assignment,” said Anthony Gutierrez, Common Cause Texas Executive Director. “Seeing how badly Texas did relative to all other states really underscores the drastic need for redistricting by an independent commission, rather than politicians, and we are committed to continue fighting to get legislation passed to make that happen.”
Common Cause graded each state for its state level redistricting. Some states received a second grade for their local redistricting process in cases where advocates provided data. Each interview and survey asked participants about the accessibility of the process, the role of community groups, the organizing landscape, and the use of communities of interest criteria.
“After a close look at all 50 states, this report shows more community voices produce better maps,” said Dan Vicuña, Common Cause national redistricting director. “When everyone can meaningfully participate and have their input reflected in the final maps, that’s how we achieve fair elections voters can trust. We found voting districts that prioritize community interests are the gateway to elections that lead to strong schools, a fair economy, and affordable healthcare.”
Common Cause found the most powerful reform is independent, citizen-led commissions where voters—rather than elected officials—administer the process and hold the power of the pen to draw maps. Independent commissioners were found to be more interested in fair representation and community input— rather than electability or party control.
The report was authored by Common Cause, Fair Count, State Voices, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
The report was published in collaboration with the Coalition Hub for Advancing Redistricting and Grassroots Engagement (CHARGE), which includes Common Cause, Fair Count, League of Women Voters, Mi Familia Vota, NAACP, NCAI, State Voices, APIAVote, and the Center for Popular Democracy.
To view the report online, click here.