The Redistricting Reform Act
The Redistricting Reform Act of 2017, introduced by Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) would implement a new redistricting model where each state would create its own commission of citizens, not politicians, charged with drawing new districts every 10 years after reapportionment. This model is very similar to the one implemented by California's Voters First Act, which created America's first citizen-based redistricting commission.
This model goes to great lengths to insulate the redistricting commission from the pressures of partisan influence, and in doing so, establishes a model that is fully capable of creating districts that best serve a state's citizens, not its political parties. Here's how it works:
How It Works
1. Citizens Apply!
Ordinary citizens interested in serving on the Independent Redistricting Commission may submit an application. Citizens may ONLY apply if they or any immediate family member HAVE NOT (i) held public office, (ii) served a campaign for a candidate for public office, (iii) been a registered lobbyist or (iv) donated to a campaign (unless the individual donated to the campaigns of every candidate for every public office) in the 5 years before or the 5 years after the individual serves on the commission.
2. Narrow the Pool
Next, a "Nonpartisan Agency" established by the state legislature narrows the applicant pool down to 36 citizens - 12 from the most represented party in the state, 12 from the second most represented party, and 12 from another or no political party. The agency has specific criteria it is required to use to select the members of the applicant pool, including: (i) demographic diversity representative of the state's diversity, (ii) relevant expertise (e.g., community outreach, data management, mapping) and (iii) the perceived ability of the individual to perform her/his duties impartially.
3. Approve the Pool
The pool of 36 developed by the Nonpartisan Agency then moves to the Select Committee on Redistricting, a 4-person committee comprised from 2 members from each of the 2 most represented party in the state's legislature. This committee either approves or disapproves of the slate of 36 candidates chosen by the Nonpartisan Agency. If rejected, the Nonpartisan Agency will have 2 more opportunities to submit a new slate of candidates.
4. Create Commission
Once the pool of 36 has been approved, the Select Committee on Redistricting randomly selects 4 members from each of the 12-person groups in the pool. In practice, this means 4 Republicans, 4 Democrats and 4 Independents. And just like that, we have an Independent Redistricting Commission!
5. Public Input
The Commission must solicit and consider input from the public and must conduct all business with the utmost transparency. It does this by (i) holding all meetings in public & live-streaming all meetings, (ii) holding multiple public hearings, (iii) maintaining a website making all committee business and information public, (iv) meeting in locations throughout the state, and (v) providing all redistricting data and software used by the commission for access by the public.
6. Preliminary Plan
The Commission will then develop and publish at least 1 preliminary redistricting plan. This must be shared publicly and open for public input both through the website and through additional public hearings. In developing this plan, the Commission is forbidden from considering the party affiliation or voting history of any citizen. The plan must also minimize the division of counties, cities, or communities of interest and must be geographically compact, to the greatest extent practicable.
7. Pass Final Plan
Finally, the Commission will make any changes considered necessary after the public input period and will put forth a final redistricting plan for vote. In order to pass, a plan must receive a majority vote (at least 7-5) AND must receive at least one vote from EACH of the 3 groups on the commission (Democrats, Republicans and Independents). If the Commission fails to produce a plan under these guidelines, the task will fall to the U.S. Circuit Court in D.C. to complete.
Check Out Our Campaign!
We are hard at work trying to pass this bill! Head over to our End Gerrymandering campaign page to learn more about what we're up to and what you can do to help!