From Staff Reports
WASHINGTON, DC — Major change is needed on how congressional district lines are redrawn every 10 years, according to a coalition of federal lawmakers who want to remove partisan politics from reapportionment.
“House Democrats are newly empowered,” Rep. Jim Cooper said, noting results of mid-term elections in November. “We should use our very first vote to clean up America’s rigged redistricting process.
“Voters ought to be able to choose their elected officials, not the other way around,” Tennessee’s 5th District congressman said with leaders of the Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats who value commonsense over party loyalty.
The Constitution requires redistricting every decade. It’s to follow: the one-person, one-vote rule; and results of the federal census. State lawmakers redraw state House and congressional lines after November elections in 2020. Those lines stay in effect until 2032.
Drawing district lines to expand political power is gerrymandering. Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed an 1812 bill for a district likened to a salamander during a Boston dinner party, smithsonianmag.com states.
“Gerrymandering is destructive to the representative democracy that our founders envisioned,” former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says.
The Blue Dog Coalition advocates legislation which, if enacted, would have states create an independent, bipartisan redistricting commission to redraw district lines that reflect contiguous communities. They would replace carved-out, gerrymandered districts for extreme political partisans.
“Partisan redistricting has made too many politicians beholden to their political party over the interests of the communities they represent,” said Rep. Lou Correa, coalition spokesman. “My state, California, has a nonpartisan redistricting committee.” All Americans deserve no less.
Blue Dogs endorse the John Tanner Fairness in Redistricting Act, as introduced by Cooper and named for the former Tennessee congressman who championed such equity for years before he retired.
In a 20th anniversary edition of its Partisan Voter Index, the Cook Political Report states the number of competitive House districts went down 56 percent in 20 years.