You may not realize it, but redistricting is the drawing of maps in which a political party can draw districts to win elections. To know a lot more, visit sites like naacpldf.org it might help. While this process is not inherently evil, political parties have exploited it to their advantage. For example, there is four times the amount of text in Wikipedia that talks about gerrymandering, a process that can be used to gain an unfair advantage over others.
While there are few absolute rules in redistricting, states generally strive to ensure contiguity among districts. Some states require contiguity in all districts, while others may allow certain exceptions. In Wisconsin, for example, the state legislature created the 61st state assembly district, which includes most of the city. In reality, the 61st district encompasses a portion of the city that is not contiguous.
Almost every jurisdiction draws legislative and congressional districts based on the total population. The Equal Protection Clause requires states to create districts of near-equal population. In a case decided by the Supreme Court, one person, one vote was applied to local jurisdictions. The court found that the citizens of each jurisdiction were entitled to substantially similar weight.
Contiguity and redistricting have significant implications for voting rights. The resulting districts must be geographically equal and not cross county, city, or town boundaries. Unless a state adopts a more stringent standard, districts may fall outside the bounds of similar populations, but they must respect the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.
Community of Interest
Community of interest is an amorphous term to describe areas with everyday needs and interests. These can range from joint employers and industries to economic interests and geographic borders. The United States Supreme Court has not defined a community of interest. However, the definition of community of interest is often confusing.
Redistricting involves drawing new district boundaries for state and congressional representation. Federal law sets out the number of seats for the House of Representatives and states often adjust their district boundaries to reflect population changes. However, the new district lines must meet all the federal requirements to preserve the right to vote.
Community of interest is an important consideration when redrawing district boundaries. Communities are better represented in districts where they have common interests. Communities with similar interests are less likely to be divided up during map drawing, and they can elect representatives who share those interests. By drawing COI maps, communities can show mapmakers what they have in common.
A major problem with state redistricting is that it distorts the political landscape. The results are that fewer voters are represented in more districts, a result known as gerrymandering. As a result, majorities are small in many communities and large in others.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits racial gerrymandering and requires states with a history of discrimination to seek Justice Department approval before changing their voting laws. But in practice, redistricting is not governed by federal law, and state legislators are free to redraw district boundaries. As a result, partisan mapmakers often move district boundaries to favor certain races and parties.
In the last election, Democratic voters in Maryland elected seven of eight House seats, despite receiving 60% of the vote. The Supreme Court did not rule on the issue, but many people believe it was a clear case of partisan gerrymandering.
Restrictions on Partisanship
Some states, like Florida, have passed laws restricting partisanship in redistricting. These laws say that legislators cannot draw districts to benefit partisan interests. The courts have often upheld such laws. Still, many states have not enacted these laws.
In states with stricter partisanship rules, redistricting commissions cannot favor or disfavor parties, candidates, or incumbents. These prohibitions are not always the same, but they often cover partisanship. In Ohio and Florida, for example, it is illegal to favor one party or candidate over another. The law also requires that overall partisan district alignment corresponds to statewide partisan preferences. In Washington State, lawmakers and nonpartisan staff are forbidden from using partial data in drawing districts.
In some states, however, partisanship has become a severe issue. For example, in Ohio, the Republican majority approved a legislative redistricting plan in 2017, which may extend the GOP’s lopsided majority in the state legislature for at least four years. However, the project faces a legal challenge, as three lawsuits contend that Republicans violated a state constitutional amendment.