Midway into the 2021-22 redistricting cycle, 25 states have completed their redistricting for U.S. House seats. Another 17 have proposals on the table. And every day, more state legislative maps are being locked into place for the next decade.
The headlines so far? A wild contest of gerrymandering on both sides of the aisle, including allegations of racial gerrymandering. The continuing collapse in the number of competitive districts. The implosion -- or subversion -- of poorly designed redistricting commissions across the nation. A flurry of lawsuits working their way through state courts, which might be the last bastion protecting fair maps in some states.
And FairVote’s Rob Richie and David Daley have been on top of it all, including why it matters. In a feature piece on Salon.com, Daley captures just how much is at stake at one intersection in Arizona:
“If one seat here in LD 17 shifted from red to blue, those efforts would likely end. If Republicans hang on, they could enact even more advantageous laws before the 2024 election, perhaps helping tip the state red again, or if it remains blue, launching a constitutional crisis by replacing electors or sending a competing slate to the Capitol for Jan. 6, 2025.
A single line, shifted by just an avenue, would change political power nationwide. Arizona Republicans have worked tirelessly, sneakily and quite effectively to ensure that they will have the power to determine where this line goes.”
In pieces in The Guardian, Daley illustrates ‘cracking’ and ‘packing’ that empowers politicians, disenfranchises voters, and eliminates the last glint of competition in politically “safe” states like Utah, Oklahoma, and Indiana.
While Daley gets to the root of our nation’s worsening gerrymandering disease, FairVote’s CEO Rob Richie identifies two potential treatments in a nationally syndicated op-ed in The Fulcrum.
In the short term, Richie points to the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the bipartisan Voting Rights Act and reduce discriminatory gerrymandering by requiring pre-clearance of House and legislative maps in certain states and localities.
For the long term, Richie writes:
“Congress should also look to the future, with the Fair Representation Act as the most comprehensive path to make House elections fairer. This bill would replace our current tiny congressional districts with larger multi-member congressional districts elected through proportional ranked-choice voting. In addition to giving voice to those in the minority and the full spectrum of voters, this approach would make it much harder to gerrymander congressional districts.”
As the redistricting cycle continues, FairVote will continue to measure and evaluate the gerrymandering wars, while advocating for common-sense solutions. We’ll be back with more analysis from Richie and Daley in early 2022.
Image: A political cartoon by Gilbert Stuart highlighting one of the first known gerrymanders in American history.