Nine Things Every Voter Should Know About Redistricting


From the LWVUS Blog

Every 10 years, after the collection of the decennial census data, states redraw their state and congressional district lines. These districts determine how communities are represented at the local, state, and federal levels. The redistricting process is fundamental in influencing how our government works for us.

Here are 9 things you should know about it:

  1. Redistricting is the process in which congressional and legislative districts are drawn to determine how communities are represented.

  2. Redistricting determines who appears on your ballot, where you can vote, and can influence whether your elected officials respond to your needs.

  3. Redistricting is how we make sure our voices are represented equally by creating districts that have nearly the same number of people in it. To create districts of equal population, we use the census. One of the first steps for fair maps is to ensure we have an accurate and complete count of the census.

  4. Redistricting is vulnerable to gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the intentional manipulation of the redistricting process by the people in political power to keep or change political power.

  5. Racial Gerrymandering is the intentional manipulation of the redistricting process to reduce the political power of a certain racial group. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 protected voters against racial gerrymandering by requiring states to prove their changes to voting systems, including redistricting, do not have a discriminatory effect.

  6. Partisan gerrymandering is when districts are drawn in a way to give an unfair advantage to one political party, group, or incumbent. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled to allow states to make their own determinations about partisan gerrymandering practices. (Additional information.}

  7. We can curb gerrymandering through increased public input, accountability, and transparent processes. The redistricting process varies from state to state. To ensure that the redistricting process is fair and doesn’t lead to racial or partisan gerrymandering, it is necessary to have opportunity for public input and accountability into the map-drawing process.

  8. This is a particularly critical year. In 2013, the Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder took away the requirement for states to get their changes to voting processes, such as the redistricting process, cleared by the Department of Justice. This means 2021 will be the first year of redistricting without the full protections of the VRA.

  9. The next redistricting cycle is upon us, and you can get involved. Through the People Powered Fair Maps TM campaign, Leagues in every state and DC are committed to ensuring that we have fair maps for the next redistricting cycle. Connect with your local League to advocate for fair maps in your state.