Posted by Patrick Withers, Billy Organek on June 23, 2010
This review of redistricting reform in the states in 2009-2010 presents a mix of optimism and frustration for supporters of redistricting in the public interest. Of the many proposals addressed by the fifty state legislatures in 2009-2010, very few passed. Most of the proposals have died or are stuck in committee. Given the fact that the laws in many states prohibit redistricting more than once a decade, few states are likely to engage in redistricting with any new, less partisan procedures before 2021 at the earliest.
For reformers, the picture is not completely bleak. The fact that most state legislatures had members who felt compelled to introduce legislation, most of which was for actual reform of the process, could very well mean that the public’s tolerance for gerrymandering and politicians selecting their constituents is lessening. When state legislators do introduce legislation to undo reform, as in California, there was significant pushback. We may not see reform across the country for at least another decade, but the problem of politically-driven redistricting at the expense of the public interest is gaining awareness from average voters. This awareness may turn to action, making it all the more important to evaluate different approaches to make sure they achieve their objectives.
State Reform in the Spotlight in November 2010:
The two major redistricting issues to watch in November 2010 are competing ballot measures expected in California and Florida. In both states, voters are faced with two competing ballot measures: one which advances redistricting reform and one which protects the status quo and the interests of legislators. There is a lot of money and a lot of activism going into both sides and the outcomes of these twin elections, especially given the importance of California and Florida in national politics, will go far in shaping the tone of the debate for years to come. These two state races also will go far in gauging grassroots involvement in the issue and act as a barometer for the engagement of average voters in redistricting reform.