Redistricting Reform Bills Target Systemic Abuse, Deserve Hearings: Statement of Meredith McGehee, Campaign Legal Center Policy Director


 Already in 2011, politicians and their minions are retreating behind closed doors to begin the gerrymandering process -- handpicking their voters instead of the other way around.   Today, Representatives Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Jim Cooper (D-TN) are to be commended for introducing bills to drag the redistricting process out of the backrooms and into the light of day. 

 Both Rep. Shuler’s, “The John Tanner Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act’’ (H.R. 453) and Rep. Cooper’s ‘‘Redistricting Transparency Act of 2011’’ (H.R. 419) deserve hearings and the serious consideration of their colleagues in the House.  For far too long, congressional leaders in both parties have scuttled any attempts to curb redistricting abuses.  

 These bills are modeled on legislation introduced previously by former Rep. Tanner but which languished in committee left to gather dust because congressional leaders refused to give up any potential partisan edge regardless of the consequences for voters.  That practice of mothballing redistricting reform bill must stop.  We call on Speaker Boehner and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) to hold hearings on the redistricting process, including consideration of these two bills.

 In too many states the decennial redistricting process constitutes a national embarrassment.  The partisan abuses are what one might expect from an ‘emerging democracy’ not the United States of America.  As voters in states with ballot initiatives have shown again and again, the redistricting status quo is unacceptable.  It is time for all Americans to have a meaningful voice in choosing their elected representatives.