Washington, D.C. — Currently, many proposals to end gerrymandering prohibit map-drawers from looking at political data such as prior voting patterns and instead rely on a set of neutral-seeming criteria. But Alex Tausanovitch, director of Campaign Finance and Electoral Reform at the Center for American Progress, explains that in some places, this can have the same effect as intentional gerrymandering—districts that heavily favor 1 of the 2 major political parties.
In a new report, “Voter-Determined Districts: Ending Gerrymandering and Ensuring Fair Representation,” Tausanovitch proposes that states purposefully account for voter preferences when drawing districts. If, for instance, a state has 10 congressional districts, and 60 percent of voters support Republicans, while 40 percent support Democrats, map-drawers should attempt, whenever possible, to draw six Republican-leaning districts and four Democratic-leaning districts. They should also select the maps that maximize representation for communities of color and provide higher levels of electoral competition. He calls this proposal “voter-determined districts.”
Tausanovitch uses 50-state data on the partisan skew of state legislative and congressional districts to show the negative effects of gerrymandering and explain why a shift is needed in the policy debate about redistricting reform. On average, Republicans gained a net 19 U.S. House seats in the 2012, 2014, and 2016 elections due to unrepresentative districts.
Right now, because of gerrymandering, most voters are not accurately represented in Congress and in their state legislatures. Our fear is that the prevailing policy responses to gerrymandering will not do enough to fix this problem,” said Tausanovitch. “Voter-determined districts are a relatively straightforward way to ensure that every vote matters and that Congress and state legislatures reflect the will of the voters.”
Click here to read: “Voter-Determined Districts: Ending Gerrymandering and Ensuring Fair Representation” by Alex Tausanovitch.
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