Civil rights Groups & Reformers Agree to Redistricting Principles
The Campaign Legal Center, the League of Women Voters and Americans for Redistricting Reform announced a "Statement of Essential Principles on Redistricting" supported by a diverse set of reform groups, civil right organizations, and academics. Many of those signing on gathered last month at the Pocantico Redistricting Conference late last month. The Legal Center, in partnership with the League, convened the meeting to explore ways that the public can best participate in the redistricting process in 2011 and beyond.
"The primary reform that redistricting stakeholders can agree on is that elected officials should not be choosing their voters in smoke filled rooms; at the very least voters must be given a view and a voice in the process," said J. Gerald Hebert, Executive Director of the Campaign Legal Center. "The 2010 Census and the next round of redistricting are nearly upon us so the time to ensure that citizens have the ability to impact the process is now, or once again we're all going to be standing around looking at the new gerrymanders muttering to ourselves 'I can't believe they did this to us again.'"
The conference brought together organizations and individuals from across the nation to discuss ways to increase the role citizens play in the process, problems with the system in general and potential short- and long-term fixes to the process of redistricting. Those signing on to the principles ranged from Common Cause and the League of Women Voters to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
"It is so important to bring a broad cross-section of stakeholders to the table because as Proposition 11 in California clearly showed, redistricting reform can be incredibly controversial - pitting against each other groups that all agree the current process is broken," said Hebert. "Quite a few of the individuals and organizations gathered for the conference fought on opposite sides of hotly contested Prop 11 ballot initiative and yet were able to agree that more transparency and public participation is needed in the redistricting process."
The groups agreed to continue working together through the 2010 Census and the next round of redistricting to expand the public's role in the process to help restore the ideals of a representative democracy. The principles themselves and the organizations and individuals signing on are included below.
STATEMENT ON ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLES ON REDISTRICTING
AS FORMULATED AT POCANTICO REDISTRICTING CONFERENCE JULY 2009
The statement below was agreed upon by attendees of the Pocantico Redistricting Conference on July 22-24, 2009. Additional organizations and individuals have signed on as well. All signatories are listed below.
The essential principles are:
1. An accurate and complete count in Census 2010 is an essential building block for all redistricting efforts.
2. The process used for redistricting must be transparent to the public.
3. The redistricting process, at all levels of government, must provide data, tools and opportunities for the public to have direct input into the specific plans under consideration by the redistricting body.
4. In order to achieve representative democracy, redistricting plans must be drawn in a manner that allows elected bodies to reflect the diversity of the populace, especially racial and ethnic diversity.
Organizations (in alphabetical order)
Americans for Redistricting Reform (and Campaign Legal Center)
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law
J. Gerald Hebert
Campaign Legal Center
Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice
Citizen Advocacy Center
Illinois Campaign for Political Reform
Mary G. Wilson
League of Women Voters of the United States
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
Michigan Campaign Finance Network
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)
Ohio Citizen Action
Southern Coalition for Social Justice
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Individuals (in alphabetical order)
The intent of these individuals is only to speak for themselves and not for their institution.
Co-Director, Political Participation Group
Edward B. Foley
Professor of Law
Ohio State University
J. Skelly Write Professor of Law
Yale Law School
Michael P. McDonald
George Mason University