The process by which congressional district lines are drawn dramatically impacts the fairness of our political process. In 35 states, the state legislature controls how district lines are drawn in a process known as redistricting, which occurs once every decade following the census. Gerrymandering is the practice of manipulating electoral district boundaries in favor of a political party or incumbent.
Historically, gerrymandering has been used both as a racist weapon to undermine the political power of minority communities and a political weapon to ensure partisan advantage. And often, gerrymandering does both: political parties use racial data in a cynical way and have drawn maps at the expense of minority voters in both racial and partisan contexts. Although the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, voting protections in the Fifteenth Amendment, and the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 have provided communities of color with some protections against racial gerrymandering, states continue to use district lines to suppress the political power of minority voters. And now that multiple provisions of the Voting Rights Act have been gutted by the Supreme Court, it is much more difficult for affected voters to challenge suppressive voting bills or unfair maps.
Gerrymandering happens at both the state and national level, and allows political parties to consistently win and hold power.
Gerrymandering fundamentally undermines a fair and representative democracy. That’s why on the federal level we support S.1/H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which would ban partisan gerrymandering, require all states to implement policies that would protect voting rights for communities of color, increase transparency and public participation in our elections, and implement independent redistricting commissions responsible for drawing fair maps. That being said there’s more than one way to fight for redistricting reform -- we must continue our fight for fair redistricting in the states as well.
To fight against gerrymandering in your state, you should use this document to:
- Learn how redistricting works
- Learn about the policies that make redistricting more fair
- Work with advocates to push for democracy reform in your state