National Civic Summit - Brennan Center For Justice - Justin Levitt


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National Civic Summit - Brennan Center For Justice - Justin Levitt

  1. 1. Redistricting and the Census Justin Levitt July 16, 2009
  2. 2. The Brennan Center and redistricting Based at NYU, but work nationwide Think tank, advocacy group, law firm <ul><li>Study of redistricting practices and reform initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis of proposals </li></ul><ul><li>Testimony before decisionmakers </li></ul><ul><li>Consulting for advocates </li></ul><ul><li>Advocacy and publication </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Midwest Democracy Network Alliance of political reform advocates 5 Midwest states <ul><li>Public education </li></ul><ul><li>Civic organization training </li></ul><ul><li>Policy formulation </li></ul><ul><li>Public advocacy and pressure for reform </li></ul>
  4. 4. Today’s conversation <ul><li>What? </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><li>When? </li></ul><ul><li>Who? </li></ul><ul><li>Where? </li></ul><ul><li>How? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Today’s conversation <ul><li>What? </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><li>When? </li></ul><ul><li>Who? </li></ul><ul><li>Where? </li></ul><ul><li>How? </li></ul>
  6. 6. What is “redistricting”? <ul><li>Every 10 years (at least), after the census </li></ul><ul><li>Congress, state legislature, many local legislatures </li></ul><ul><li>Sorts voters into groups, distributes political power, affects policy priorities </li></ul>
  7. 7. Downtown Minneapolis
  8. 8. Is this a good district?
  9. 9. Is this a good district? You can’t know if a district is “good,” unless you know what it’s trying to achieve
  10. 10. Today’s conversation <ul><li>What? </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><li>When? </li></ul><ul><li>Who? </li></ul><ul><li>Where? </li></ul><ul><li>How? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Why does redistricting matter? <ul><li>Politicians choosing their voters </li></ul><ul><li>Eliminating incumbents or challengers </li></ul><ul><li>Diluting minority votes </li></ul><ul><li>Splitting up communities </li></ul>Hakeem Jeffries’ house •
  12. 12. Today’s conversation <ul><li>What? </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><li>When? </li></ul><ul><li>Who? </li></ul><ul><li>Where? </li></ul><ul><li>How? </li></ul>
  13. 13. Key redistricting dates April 1, 2010 ― December 31, 2010 ― January 10, 2011 ― April 1, 2011 ― End of session 2011 ― Census Day Census count to President Apportionment to U.S. House Redistricting data to states Most redistricting complete
  14. 14. Today’s conversation <ul><li>What? </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><li>When? </li></ul><ul><li>Who? </li></ul><ul><li>Where? </li></ul><ul><li>How? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Who draws the lines <ul><li>In most states, the legislature has primary control </li></ul><ul><li>State legislative districts: 37 states </li></ul><ul><li>Congressional districts: 38 states (and 7 states with 1 Congressional district) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Other redistricting institutions State legislative districts Congressional districts Advisory Backup Primary control in the legislature Primary control outside legislature
  17. 17. Today’s conversation <ul><li>What? </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><li>When? </li></ul><ul><li>Who? </li></ul><ul><li>Where? </li></ul><ul><li>How? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Start with federal protections <ul><li>Equal population – one person, one vote </li></ul><ul><li>Congress: as equal as possible </li></ul><ul><li>State legislature: ~10% spread if good reason </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>section 2: draw majority-minority districts to avoid dilution </li></ul><ul><li>section 5: preclear to ensure that minority voters aren’t made worse off </li></ul><ul><li>otherwise: can consider race, but race can’t “predominate” unless really good reason </li></ul>Cracking Packing Federal protections Race – Voting Rights Act and the Constitution
  20. 20. The Voting Rights Act and beyond
  21. 21. After federal law, add state limitations <ul><li>Contiguity </li></ul><ul><li>Political boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>Compactness </li></ul><ul><li>Communities of interest </li></ul><ul><li>Partisanship/competition </li></ul><ul><li>Nesting </li></ul>State leg. Congress 45 14 38 13 34 13 19 8 9 6 14 (+3) n/a
  22. 22. Today’s conversation <ul><li>What? </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><li>When? </li></ul><ul><li>Who? </li></ul><ul><li>Where? </li></ul><ul><li>How? </li></ul>
  23. 23. Influencing the process <ul><li>Tangible next steps </li></ul><ul><li>Census </li></ul><ul><li>Redistricting </li></ul>
  24. 24. Influencing the census <ul><li>Educate your community </li></ul><ul><li>Recruit census takers </li></ul><ul><li>Become a census partner </li></ul><ul><li>Staff a help center </li></ul><ul><li>Fight the “boycott” </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on “hard to count” areas </li></ul>
  25. 25. 2000 population in hard-to-count areas Source: Election Data Services
  26. 26. 2000 Denver hard-to-count areas Source: Community Research Institute, Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, Grand Valley State U.
  27. 27. Influencing redistricting (short-term) <ul><li>Educate your community </li></ul><ul><li>Educate the media and drive the story </li></ul><ul><li>Identify and map community boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>Attend hearings </li></ul><ul><li>Present alternative maps </li></ul>
  28. 28. Mapping community boundaries
  29. 29. Communities of interest <ul><li>Social interests </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural interests </li></ul><ul><li>Racial / ethnic interests </li></ul><ul><li>Economic / trade interests </li></ul><ul><li>Geographic interests </li></ul><ul><li>Communication and transportation networks </li></ul><ul><li>Media markets </li></ul><ul><li>Urban and rural interests </li></ul><ul><li>Occupations and lifestyles </li></ul>
  30. 30. Influencing redistricting (long-term) <ul><li>Alternative voting systems - Cumulative voting - Choice voting </li></ul><ul><li>Alternative redistricting entities - Independent commissions - Accountability seats </li></ul>
  31. 31. Independent commissions <ul><li>This is not about taking politics out of redistricting </li></ul><ul><li>It’s about limiting the role of self-dealing politicians </li></ul><ul><li>Why should one of the game’s players also be the referee? </li></ul>
  32. 32. Independent commissions <ul><li>Who chooses the commissioners? </li></ul><ul><li>How to ensure real diversity? </li></ul><ul><li>Which criteria are most important? </li></ul><ul><li>How to reconcile competing criteria? </li></ul><ul><li>How to get the right discretion? </li></ul><ul><li>Meaningful independence </li></ul><ul><li>Meaningful diversity </li></ul><ul><li>Meaningful guidance </li></ul><ul><li>Meaningful transparency </li></ul>Still need careful design
  33. 33. Preparing for long-term change <ul><li>Ballot initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>Legislative action </li></ul>- Substantial public support - Substantial funding - Bipartisan sponsorship - Support of minority communities Source: Initiative & Referendum Institute, University of Southern California - Substantial public support - Bipartisan sponsorship - Support of minority communities
  34. 34. Building public support <ul><li>Educate the media </li></ul><ul><li>Train community leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Secure validation from trusted elders </li></ul><ul><li>Model best practices (model commission) </li></ul>
  35. 35. Further information <ul><li>Justin Levitt Brennan Center for Justice </li></ul><ul><li>Midwest Democracy Network Booth 204 at the Expo, here at the Summit </li></ul>
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