Taking Politics Out of Redistricting


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Taking Politics Out of Redistricting

  1. 1. Taking the Politics out of Redistricting Presented to the Wisconsin Land Information Association October 21, 2010 Peter Cannon, Secretary Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
  2. 2. Should we Take the Politics Out of Redistricting? We know who is responsible and they are answerable to the voters Every reform proposal – to some extent – makes the process less democratic 2
  3. 3. Should we Take the Politics Out of Redistricting? Continued Most states have chosen to have legislators do it Reform proposals won’t work any better Legislators know the districts 3
  4. 4. What’s the Problem? If there is stalemate – split control between parties, legislators draw maps that favor incumbents If one party controls the process, political gerrymandering 4
  5. 5. What’s the Problem? Electoral Competitiveness – Since 2000, only three U.S. House races have been competitive (margin of victory with 10 points) – Since 2000, state legislative incumbents have been reelected 95% of the time. 5
  6. 6. What’s the Problem? ContinuedEffects on civility & partisan cooperation Politically lopsided districts make elections less competitive and voters less powerful Harder to get new blood and fresh ideas into the legislature 6
  7. 7. What’s the Problem? ContinuedEffects on civility & partisan cooperation They contribute to hyper-partisan, polarized politics that make compromise nearly impossible on controversial issues. One-sided districts tend to produce candidates who appeal to just one side. 7
  8. 8. What’s the Problem? ContinuedEffects on civility & partisan cooperation Squeezed out are candidates who appeal to independents or voters of both parties. The result is a legislature of fierce partisans, with fewer members willing to reach across the political divide to get the public’s business done. 8
  9. 9. What’s the Problem? ContinuedCostDepending on whose tally you believe, the total amount spent on redistricting a decade ago was somewhere between $2.6 million and $2.9 million for sophisticated map-drawing technology, technical experts and political consultants to help them draw new district lines as well as attorneys to represent legislative leaders in court. 9
  10. 10. Can we Take the Politics out of Redistricting? How do we get legislators to change a system that gives them control? Why would legislators want to give up that control? 10
  11. 11. Can we Take the Politics out of Redistricting? Continued It’s hard to persuade people that reform is necessary – Most citizens don’t think about redistricting very often – It’s hard to explain why it’s important – particularly if you weren’t affected last time 11
  12. 12. How is it done?• Legislatures (36 states)• Nonpartisan legislative agency draws map for legislature to adopt (Iowa)• Advisory commissions to help• Backup commissions if legislature fails• Political commissions – members appointed by politicians (7 states)• Independent commissions (6 states) 12
  13. 13. How should it be donePrinciples for effective redistricting Meaningful independence Meaningful diversity Meaningful guidance Meaningful participation 13
  14. 14. Meaningful Independence Those who draw the lines should not be direct beneficiaries Those who draw the lines should not be controlled by direct beneficiaries One of the players shouldn’t also be the umpire 14
  15. 15. Meaningful Diversity Those who draw the lines should reflect the state, county or municipality Need redistricting body of sufficient size Need rules/incentives to choose diverse membership 15
  16. 16. Meaningful Guidance Criteria that reflect basic goals Enough flexibility to accommodate local exceptions Communities of interest Voter majority is legislative majority 16
  17. 17. Meaningful Participation Process that encourages community input before and after drafts Encouraging input from diverse voices in the community Testimony regarding who are communities of interest 17
  18. 18. Arizona 5 members – 2 R, 2D, 1 I Not more than 2 from a county Chosen by legislators from pool with committee choosing the 5th No candidates, party officials or lobbyists 18
  19. 19. Arizona Criteria Equal population to the extend practicable – Geographically compact and contiguous – Respect community interests – Visible geographic features, county and municipal boundaries and census boundaries – Competitive districts should be favored where to do so would create no significant detriment to the other goals. 19
  20. 20. Arizona Criteria Continued No initial use of party registration and voting data No use of information on incumbent residence Draft to be presented to the public and comments on the draft to be considered 20
  21. 21. Arizona Criteria ContinuedArizona, which is the only state to require competitiveness as a redistricting criterion, was in litigation over its 2001 maps for seven years. Opponents of the maps drawn by Arizona’s independent redistrict commission unsuccessfully challenged that the maps were not sufficiently competitive. 21
  22. 22. California – Prop 11 Step One: Any of California’s approximately 15 million registered voters may apply Step Two: The independent State Auditor selects a panel of three independent auditors to screen applicants. 22
  23. 23. California – Prop 11 Continued Step Three: The panel of auditors chooses three “sub-pools” of 20 persons each – from the 60 most qualified persons who have applied. • 20 Democrats, • 20 Republicans, and • 20 others. 23
  24. 24. California – Prop 11 Continued Step Four: The four legislative leaders (Assembly Speaker and Minority Leader, and Senate President pro Tem and Minority Leader) may each strike two people from each 20 person “sub-pool.” 24
  25. 25. California – Prop 11 Continued Step Five: The three auditors randomly select eight commissioners: • 3 Democrats, • 3 Republicans, and • 2 others. 25
  26. 26. California – Prop 11 Continued Step Six: The eight commissioners select six more members from sub-pools – The final Citizens Redistricting Commission has 14 members: • 5 Democrats, • 5 Republicans, and • 4 others 26
  27. 27. California – Prop 11 ContinuedThe independent commission must approve its redistricting maps by a supermajority vote of 9 out of 14 members. Moreover, the majority must consist of at least 3 of the 5 Democrats, 3 of the 5 Republicans and 3 of the 4 “Decline to States” or representatives of other parties. 27
  28. 28. California – Prop 11 Redistricting Criteria Geographic contiguity – Respect for geographic integrity of neighborhoods, city and county boundaries, and communities of interest, without violating the requirements of the previous criteria. Geographic compactness to the extent practicable and where it does not conflict with the criteria above. No consideration of the place of residence of any incumbent or political candidate in the creation of a map. Don’t favor or discriminate against an incumbent, political candidate or political party. 28
  29. 29. California – Prop 11 Continued The following redistricting criteria (in order of priority) must be followed in drawing legislative district lines. Districts must: – have reasonably equal population – comply with the federal Voting Rights Act – be geographically contiguous (connected) – respect counties, cities, communities of interest and neighborhoods · 29
  30. 30. California – Prop 11 Continued– · to the extent there is no conflict with the criteria above, districts should be • geographically compact, and nested • not be drawn to favor or discriminate against incumbents, candidates or parties. • Incumbent addresses may not be considered. 30
  31. 31. Iowa A nonpartisan legislative staff agency draws a map The legislature accepts or rejects it After the legislature has rejected two sets of plans can it draw districts as it pleases. (this hasn’t happened yet) 31
  32. 32. Why is Redistricting so Hard? Or,Maybe the Legislators should behappy to have someone else do it!  Local and Regional Interests – Urban/suburban/rural splits  Minority Interests – Can Latinos elect an alder? 32
  33. 33. Why is it so Hard? Continued Party Interests – How will balance of power in the legislature change? Individual legislators – How will my district change? Citizen Interests – New legislator? – New polling place? – More or less competition? 33
  34. 34. What can you do? TEACH There’s no perfect map, rather an endless number each with its own imperfection One problem is the criteria aren’t fixed in a rank order. It would be a lot easier if you could apply a, then apply b, then apply c. But even then, the map is going to look different if you start at the northwest corner of the county rather than the southeast corner, because every decision drives the next one. 34
  35. 35. Important LessonsThe Mapping Project – George Mason Universityhttp://elections.gmu.edu/Redistricting.ht ml 35
  36. 36. Important Lessons Equal population districts must be of unequal geographic size; urban districts must be smaller than rural districts Nicely-shaped districts are difficult to draw using census blocks; and may conflict with respecting existing political boundaries 36
  37. 37. Important Lessons Redistricting criteria can have predictable partisan and racial effects If goals like partisan fairness or competition are desired, they should be codified into law, just as we do with minority representation goals described in the Voting Rights Act 37
  38. 38. What can you do? Try to keep decision makers from making mistakes – if you can. Remind them of things they can’t do. Point out potential problems. 38
  39. 39. Things that help Aim for the ideal Be flexible Have standards and apply them uniformly 39
  40. 40. Things that help Know who has authority! Understand the timeline Say you can’t meet it immediately – What do you need to meet the timeline? – Staff? Equipment? 40
  41. 41. Things that help Legislators get REALLY nervous at redistricting time. After all, it’s their districts on the line. Don’t take things personally. Most members assume the plan should originate from their own district. Expect some irrational choices. Don’t play on the freeway. Stay out of fights between members – unless it’s your job to resolve them.From Thomas B. Hofeller, Redistricting Coordinator, Republican National Committee 41
  42. 42. Things that help Remember that “bad news, unlike fine wine, does not age well.” Let people know about problems as they develop. If bad news has to be given to a member, let the attorneys or outside experts deliver it – if possible. That’s what they’re paid to do.From Thomas B. Hofeller, Redistricting Coordinator, Republican National Committee 42
  43. 43. Things that help Understand the local rules – Who can make suggestions. – Who shouldn’t see the plan. Find out what everybody knows, but didn’t tell you! – You never split the village of X – Y is an important boundary 43
  45. 45. Things that help Exercise reduces stress 45
  46. 46. http://www.wisdc.org/Peter Cannonapcannon@gmail.com(608) 251-1276 46