GERRYMANDERING FORM LETTER

Below is a letter for your state representatives demanding that they pass legislation to turn over the redistricting process to an independent commission. In most states, state legislatures are in charge of redistricting, granting them the power to gerrymander legislative districts to preserve their own power. It is therefore very unlikely that your state representatives will be very keen on giving up a mechanism that allows them to shield themselves from accountability. That means that we have to make it clear to all politicians that if they do not make elimination of gerrymandering a priority, it will cost them their seat.


I am writing to demand that you introduce legislation turning over the process of drawing congressional and state assembly legislative districts to an independent and nonpartisan commission. Throughout the country, state legislatures have disenfranchised millions of voters by drawing legislative districts to eliminate electoral competition and shut opposition out of the electoral process through a practice commonly referred to as gerrymandering. Gerrymandering fundamentally violates the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment by deliberately conferring disproportionate representation to certain groups of people while disenfranchising others. Since gerrymandering dilutes the voting power of citizens and diminishes their ability to hold their representatives accountable through free and fair elections, gerrymandering is a burden on the freedom of association guaranteed by the first amendment of the Constitution. It is therefore apparent that state legislatures can not be trusted with the important responsibility of drawing fair legislative districts, and the only solution is to turn over the redistricting process to an objective body. 

Without proper implementation, authority, and oversight, an independent redistricting commission may not conduct redistricting in a fair manner. Therefore, such a commission must have the following characteristics. First, it must be granted the full legal authority to draw legislative districts without approval or input from the state legislature or any other partisan body. Next, it must be charged with drawing districts that are competitive, that do not confer disproportionate advantage based on partisanship, race, or ethnicity, that do not divide communities of interest, and that are not excessively distorted. The public has a right to hold such a commission accountable, and therefore transparency is paramount. The source code of any software used in the redistricting process, including proprietary software belonging to third parties if such are contracted by the commission, must be made publicly available with a detailed explanation of how this software was used. All data used in the redistricting process must also be published, again with a detailed explanation of how this data was used to protect the rights of the people. 

Anything short of a completely independent and completely transparent redistricting commission is completely unacceptable. Grassroots anti gerrymandering movements are building momentum around the country as citizens are becoming aware that their representatives have been quietly robbing them of their vote through this cynical practice. You are now in a position to take leadership in a nationwide movement seeking to protect the constitutional rights of this nation's citizens, and I expect you to act.