When Banning Partisan Gerrymandering Was a GOP Idea ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 
Brennan Center
Featured Pieces
When Banning Partisan Gerrymandering Was a GOP Idea
Congressional Republicans vocally oppose the Freedom to Vote Act, claiming that its sweeping reforms, including a ban on partisan gerrymandering, amount to a “brazen power grab” by Democrats. Yet Republicans are forgetting, or ignoring, the history of their own party’s role in redistricting reform. In fact, the partisan gerrymandering ban in today’s Freedom to Vote Act borrows heavily from similar provisions championed by Sen. Mitch McConnell and congressional Republicans in the 1990s. As the Brennan Center’s Michael Li writes, “These ideas for fixing a broken redistricting process were smart three decades ago when Republicans were the ones proposing them. They are no less smart today.”
Read more about the Freedom to Vote Act’s redistricting provisions here.
Prison Gerrymandering Undermines Our Democracy
In most states, incarcerated people are counted at the place of their incarceration for the purposes of redistricting, rather than in their home communities, in what is called prison gerrymandering. As the Brennan Center’s Garrett Fisher, Taylor King, and Gabriella Limón write, “When states draw districts without reallocating people who are incarcerated, they ignore the reality of the relationship between these individuals and the areas where prisons are located.” Prison gerrymandering simultaneously deprives over-incarcerated Black and Latino communities of representation and gives undue political representation to rural, whiter communities, undermining the principles of our democracy and reinforcing racial discrimination. But public support for ending prison gerrymandering is growing, with 11 states having enacted reforms to end or limit this practice. You can read more about state efforts to end prison gerrymandering here.
Featured Maps: Fate of Two Map Proposals Rests on One Vote
For the first time since 1990, Montana will soon have two congressional districts. The state’s redistricting commission has narrowed down its proposals to two maps: CP 10, drawn by the commission’s two Republican members, and CP 11, drawn by the two Democratic members. The maps are very similar in that they divide the state into a safe Republican eastern district, and a more competitive but Republican-leaning western district. However, the two proposals differ in exactly how much the western district will lean Republican. The commission must approve a final map by mid-November, and the deciding vote will likely come down to its fifth member, the tiebreaking chair appointed by the Montana Supreme Court.
The State of Play
So far, 8 states have completed drawing congressional maps and 10 states have completed legislative maps. The Brennan Center has released a tracker you can use to view new redistricting maps that have been approved across the states.
Redistricting in the News
New York voters have already started voting on several democracy-related ballot measures on this November’s ballot, including one that would amend the state’s redistricting process — constitutionalizing an end to prison gerrymandering, fixing the number of state senate seats at 63, and adopting several other reforms, including changes to how maps get approved. You can read the Brennan Center’s explainer on the amendment here.
North Carolina Democratic lawmakers and civil rights activists are astounded by Republican lawmakers’ so-called “race-blind” redistricting proposals. Some recently introduced maps would split Charlotte, home to the state’s largest Black population, into several house districts and give Republicans a significant advantage in congressional seats.
Although they were Republican members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, Gov. Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and Auditor Keith Faber all claim that they did not play a significant role in drawing maps that they voted to approve in September, with LaRose privately calling the GOP’s defense of its maps “asinine,” according to documents filed in the Ohio Supreme Court. The commission and its members are parties to multiple lawsuits over the map’s partisan fairness and equal protection violations, including one filed by the Brennan Center.
Michigan’s independent redistricting commission sparked controversy after it released a proposed map that reduced the percentage of Black voters in legislative districts in Detroit, the largest city in the nation with a Black-majority population. Although members of the commission have said that they are taking suggestions from the public seriously, some advocates have said that the proposed maps would be quickly met with lawsuits for violating the Voting Rights Act.
In Texas, several Latino voters and advocacy groups filed a federal lawsuit arguing that the new legislative and congressional maps approved by the Texas Legislature dilute the power of the state’s Latino community. In the past decade, Texas’s Latino population accounted for over 50 percent of the state’s growth, yet the new maps added no new Latino-majority districts. The plaintiffs are represented in the case by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF).
The panel advising the Vermont General Assembly’s redistricting process released an initial plan that would eliminate the use of multimember districts, echoing a similar fight a decade ago. Critics of this plan say that it does not prioritize keeping cities and towns in one district. The General Assembly is expected to significantly alter any plan they receive before passing a final map. Vermont is only one of ten states that utilize multimember districts in its legislature.
Virginia’s bipartisan redistricting commission once again reached an impasse in its attempt to pass new congressional districts, just weeks after they failed to pass new legislative districts. The commission adjourned with the hope of reconvening if the co-chairs find a path toward compromise. Because the commission missed the October 24 deadline for passing maps, responsibility for map drawing now defaults to the Virginia Supreme Court.