Fighting for the Right of Citizens to Pursue Fair Maps on November Ballot

Map of Arkansas in a book of maps
Map of Arkansas. Photo by Gillian van Niekerk / Alamy Stock Photo.

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a lawsuit on September 2, 2020 seeking to reinstate an Arkansas ballot initiative calling for a fair, citizen-led redistricting process that would allow state voters to approve an overhaul of the way voting maps are redrawn.

CLC is representing the League of Women Voters of Arkansas as a client, and the local group, Arkansas Voters First, which spearheaded a successful signature gathering drive that resulted in more than 150,000 signatures in support of the initiative.

It was certified by the Arkansas Secretary of State, but a legal challenge by politicians seeking to preserve their power resulted in the Arkansas Supreme Court removing the initiative from the ballot. CLC’s suit seeks to put it back on the ballot. The case is called Miller v. Thurston.

Arkansans have the right to decide whether their district maps will continue to be drawn by self-interested politicians or whether they can stand up and say no to the undemocratic practice of gerrymandering.

The initiative would allow Arkansas to vote to establish an independent commission that prohibits lobbyists and national political operatives from influencing how voting maps are drawn and requires a fully transparent process with public input.

About Redistricting Reform

An Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) is a body separate from the legislature that is responsible for drawing the districts used in congressional and state legislative elections.

In most states, the state legislature is responsible for drawing and approving electoral districts with a simple majority subject to a gubernatorial veto.

Because this process – known as redistricting – generally involves political actors whose careers depend on how the lines are drawn, both major political parties have used the process to unfairly strip voters of their voice. According to a CLC-commissioned poll of likely 2020 general election voters, at least 60% of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans support the creation of IRCs.

Independent citizen-led commissions, like those passed in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Utah, have been highly successful in ensuring that voting maps represent the population. States like Arkansas are following their lead and continuing to fight back against partisan gerrymandering.

If you are interested in learning more about how to support redistricting reform in your state, check out CLC’s free resources at DemocracyU.

Corey handles media relations for the CLC voting rights and redistricting teams and creates online content. Follow @cgfromdc on Twitter