WASHINGTON - November 1 - On the eve of congressional elections likely to be skewed by gerrymandering, the Campaign Legal Center, the Center for Excellence in Government and the League of Women Voters today released a report that calls for a national redistricting reform movement and offers guidance for state-level redistricting reform efforts. “Building A National Redistricting Reform Movement” reports on the deliberations and conclusions of a diverse group of individuals from nonpartisan organizations at a conference held earlier this year in Salt Lake City .
The report builds on broad principles for reforming congressional and legislative redistricting set out in the 2005 report, “The Shape of Representative Democracy.” It also looks at lessons learned from unsuccessful redistricting reform attempts in 2005 and suggests strategies to pursue and pitfalls to avoid in future reform efforts.
The sponsors of the report timed its release just a week before the mid-term election to underscore the distorting effects of the gerrymandering of so many congressional districts after the 2000 census. It is a reminder of how drawing district lines to insure safe districts – often done on a bipartisan basis to serve incumbents in both parties – is likely to insulate the U. S. House of Representatives from fundamental democratic accountability.
The new report carefully examines the ballot initiatives defeated last year in California and Ohio. Both drew strong, well-funded opposition and suffered from being tied to other complex proposals and from being seen as partisan power-grabs.
The report recognizes that national redistricting reform will be a daunting task and urges careful attention to content, timing, resources, research and message development, and coalition building and public outreach. The next step in the groups’ efforts will be to bring together a broad coalition to build public support for redistricting reform efforts.
The report is available online here.
The redistricting reform conference was organized by the Campaign Legal Center, the Center for Democracy & Citizenship at the Council for Excellence in Government and the League of Women Voters with generous support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the JEHT Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation.