June 14, 2018

States seeking ways to reduce gerrymandering

Christian Science Monitor - Ohio last month became the eighth state to turn to some form of a separate commission for redrawing US House of Representatives districts after the national census each decade to squelch gerrymandering. Thirteen states, including Ohio, use commissions for state legislature districts as well.

Clamoring for more fairness in elections, Ohio voters on May 8 approved with a 75 percent majority a state constitutional amendment to create a bipartisan commission to draw district boundaries if the state legislature fails to produce a plan acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats. The plan earlier won overwhelming support in Ohio's legislature.

If the Supreme Court rules against voters in Wisconsin and Maryland who challenged partisan gerrymandering in those states, legal experts said more states may consider efforts like Ohio's.

The justices in 2015 gave their stamp of approval to independent commissions to handle redistricting, upholding a voter-approved Arizona plan that stripped state lawmakers of their role in mapping congressional districts in a bid to remove partisan politics from the process.

About a quarter of US states have given a commission either full or partial authority in redistricting. These commissions vary in form, some allowing elected politicians as members and other more independent ones not allowing them. Some commissions merely advise lawmakers.

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