WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight over federal elections, introduced new legislation to help end partisan gerrymandering and reform the nation's patchwork redistricting process. The Redistricting Reform Act would require states to establish independent, bipartisan redistricting commissions to draw fair statewide district maps after each decennial census. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“Partisan gerrymandering undermines the principles of our democracy and puts political parties before people,” Klobuchar said. “Following last month’s Supreme Court decision to essentially green light political manipulation of congressional districts, Congress must act to protect the Constitutional principal of ‘one-person, one-vote.’ My legislation would help eliminate gerrymandering once and for all so every person’s vote is counted equally.”
Specifically, the Redistricting Reform Act would:
- Require each state to establish an independent, bipartisan redistricting commission to draw Congressional district maps and sets parameters under which the commissions shall be created.
- Establish eligibility requirements to prevent conflicts of interest, and to ensure that members of the commissions are not lobbyists, political donors or party operatives. The bill also requires that the commissions operate in a transparent manner and reflect the diversity of the state.
- Require that the criteria for a redistricting plan developed by the commissions to:
- Have equal population per representative, in accordance with the U.S. Constitution;
- Comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965;
- Be geographically contiguous and compact, and have boundaries that minimize the division of communities of interest.
- Require the commissions to provide ample notice and opportunity for the public to provide input and engage in the redistricting process.
The Redistricting Reform Act is endorsed by the Brennan Center, Common Cause, Campaign Legal Center, and Democracy 21.
“Power-hungry politicians frequently use hyper-partisan gerrymandering to silence the voices of Americans in our democracy, and allowing self-interested politicians to cherry-pick their voters is like allowing foxes to guard a hen house. Independent, non-partisan redistricting commissions shift decision-making from politicians to everyday citizens, and these panels are a common-sense solution that nearly 10 states have enacted. Common Cause strongly supports the Redistricting Reform Act and appreciates that this legislation was included in the For the People Act,” said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs at the non-partisan government watchdog Common Cause.