Redistricting Reform Bill Tackles Systemic Abuse: Statement of J. Gerald Hebert, Campaign Legal Center Executive Director
The way most states draw congressional districts must change if we are to break the partisan gridlock in Washington. Representatives John Tanner (D-TN) and Mike Castle (R-DE) and Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) are to be commended for moving the ball forward on reforming this process with the introduction of the Fairness And Independence in Redistricting (FAIR) Act. They clearly recognize that our current system is broken and must be addressed and addressed quickly. The gerrymandering clock is ticking loudly.
Redistricting reform must occur in the 111th Congress or the next round of gerrymanders will begin anew in the wake of the 2010 Census. Our representative democracy is undermined each time politicians get to handpick their voters instead of voters choosing their elected officials. No good comes of seats that are intentionally drawn so as to be so uncompetitive they ensure re-election for incumbents. These "safe seats" feed voter apathy, drive down turnout on Election Day, and produce incumbents who are more likely to face their only real competition from the fringes of their own party. This only serves to widen the distance between Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
The current system is a terrible disservice to the citizens of this country and a gross distortion of the democracy envisioned by the founding fathers for the legislative branch. The time to fix this system is now. It will be too late if we wait for the inevitable public outrage that will follow the next wave of gerrymanders. The time to act is now.