When redistricting, there are some things to consider. For example, all but Alabama will hold state legislative elections in 2020. However, these states will likely change control before redistricting. That means that redistricting may take place before the next state legislative election. Here is what redistricting looks like in every state . You can also expect to see a bipartisan commission and Floterial districts.
The Democratic Party has pushed for state-level redistricting commissions to prevent political gerrymandering. But these commissions hinder the party’s chances of capitalizing on the state’s growing population, particularly among minorities and city dwellers. Moreover, these panels haven’t worked well in Republican-dominated states, where GOP lawmakers can draw maps to give themselves more seats. And if Republicans control redistricting processes in their state, then Democrats are limited to a certain number of seats in their state.
The Republican Party is worried that Montana’s congressional district commission is biased, especially since the commission is evenly divided along party lines, with a court-appointed tiebreaker. The commissioner, Maylinn Smith, has donated to Democratic candidates and says she won’t be biased. But this may not be the case everywhere. In some Democratic states with commissions, the resulting maps skew heavily Democratic. Democrats accused the independent tiebreaker of being biased, citing his past political contributions to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
State legislatures draw congressional and state legislative district lines every ten years. While state legislatures traditionally perform this process, it has often been rigged in favor of the party in power. In addition to partisan bias, some states have instituted bipartisan commissions to draw congressional maps. In these states, the bipartisan commissions aim to draw more politically balanced districts that reflect the state’s political makeup.
Many people have asked me, “Is it right to create floterial districts in every state?” The answer is, perhaps, but it’s unclear what that means. Floterial districts are those with more than one member elected by a single district. Those who oppose floterial districts say they are dangerous to democracy. But if floterial districts are right, why do we need them?
First, all party plans that use floterials fail to recognize the deviation from the one person, one vote principle. Floterial districts are single-member districts, but the plan treats them as if all three representatives represented both towns. That is an extremely misleading approach because floterials are single-member districts with three representatives. As such, floterial districts are incredibly dangerous and must be avoided.
Floterial districts are created when legislative districts overlap. These districts are called contiguous when common transportation connects the two sides of the district. In an island state, a district is considered contiguous if it is the most tied to the island or the most connected to it. Hawaii, however, is an exception. As a result, the state constitution prohibits floterial districts.
The use of partisan gerrymandering in redivisioning is nothing new. The practice dates back to the mid-1800s when a political cartoon was published, comparing the shape of a newly-drawn Congressional electoral district in South Essex County to a salamander. Federalists compared the district to the reptile body, and a portmanteau was born – “gerrymander.” Partisan gerrymandering has become an accepted part of the redistricting process in every state, and the Supreme Court has acknowledged that this practice has long been a part of the American political system.
While the shapes of legislative and congressional districts vary from state to state, the principles behind the practice are similar. Partisan gerrymandering focuses political considerations over other factors and results in maps that guarantee a certain outcome. While partisanship is an important factor in the process, it should not be the only consideration.
In a bipartisan state like Michigan, a citizens commission composed of four registered Democrats and four Republicans, plus five registered independent voters, is drawing up new maps. Some Republicans have reacted negatively to these moves, and Democrats have questioned whether some commissioners who fill out seats in districts drawn by a non-majority of voters are secret Democrats. As a result, Virginia Democrats endorsed a new bipartisan redistricting process, which will begin in 2019. But now, Democrats are having second thoughts.