Already looking ahead to the 2022 midterms? Hang on. We have a more pressing issue right now: Redistricting.
Redistricting is the process of drawing electoral boundaries in the United States for the purpose of electing representation in state and federal government. 2021 is a redistricting year. And we need to put all our efforts behind ensuring a fair process. The U.S. Constitution requires that districts be equally populated. Once the census is completed, that data will be used to redraw district lines.
Why does this matter? How redistricting plays out in 2021 will have a huge impact on ensuring fair representation in the 2022 midterms and beyond. In most states, redistricting is the responsibility of the state legislature. This can result in some pretty undemocratic behaviors, like when elected leaders attempt to “game the system” to ensure the redrawn districts give them an advantage in getting reelected or in winning more seats, or even going so far as to redraw in such a way as to ensure their party will gain or maintain the majority--partisan gerrymandering. The problem is that this ends up silencing the voices of voters. Here’s a quick 5-minute video about gerrymandering.
Republicans intentionally set out to skew the game over a decade ago with their Redistricting Majority Project (REDMAP). In 2010, Republican strategist Karl Rove said, “He who controls redistricting can control Congress." It's why today Republicans have a majority in 33 state legislative chambers. It’s also why Democratic candidates for the state legislature in Pennsylvania won 51 percent of the vote back in 2012, but ended up with only 28 percent of the seats in the legislature. It’s also no coincidence that Democrats failed to flip a single state legislature in the 2020 elections, in spite of record-breaking turnout.
To be clear, partisan gerrymandering is bad no matter which party does it. There are also some examples of Democrats unfairly gerrymandering districts, but the reality is that in recent years the majority of the most aggressive gerrymandering has been perpetrated by the Republican Party, due in large part to the coordinated REDMAP plan.
Fair maps is not a partisan issue. Partisan gerrymandering
is bad no matter which party does it.
At the state level: All 50 states will be redrawing their district lines this year and it’s going to be up to us to ensure a fair and impartial redistricting process. What can you do? The actions may vary from state to state, so get involved at the state level with organizations that focus on redistricting: All on the Line, Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters are just a few. Click here to look up the details on the redistricting process in your state. If you are confident that your state will use a fair and impartial process, use the links above to find out how you can help other states. Some examples of actions you can take are attending public meetings, making public comments, calling your legislators, and writing letters to the editor of your local paper; But by working with an organized group, you can strategize and coordinate your activities to maximize your impact.
At the federal level: Legislation that has been sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk for the last few years is getting a second chance in the new Congress. In particular, we need to ensure the For the People Act (H.R. 1) passes--Among other things, it bans congressional gerrymandering and requires states to implement independent commissions to oversee redistricting. We can play a significant role by contacting our members of Congress and voicing our support for this legislation.
Bottom line: Redistricting has a HUGE impact on who represents us at the state and federal level for the next ten years. No one should be allowed to rig the game, no matter their party. We must demand a fair process.