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9 - How to Design Effective Anti-gerrymandering Reforms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 July 2021

Alex Keena
Affiliation:
Virginia Commonwealth University
Michael Latner
Affiliation:
California Polytechnic State University
Anthony J. McGann McGann
Affiliation:
University of Strathclyde
Charles Anthony Smith
Affiliation:
University of California, Irvine
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Summary

Do restricting reforms work? We investigate the effects of rules reforms and procedural reforms on districting outcomes. First, we investigate the effects of common “fair districting” criteria – that is, rules that require (or prohibit) certain outcomes in districting. We find little evidence that adding additional criteria will prevent partisan bias in districting. In many cases, such as district compactness requirements, it appears that districting authorities frequently ignore the rules. The biggest drawback with rules-based reforms is that they depend upon the judiciary for enforcement. We then evaluate the effects of “procedural reforms,” like citizen redistricting commissions. We find systemically less bias in districting when the maps are drawn by citizens and other independent bodies. Although the design and mechanics of commissions vary widely, we find the least bias in the maps drawn by redistricting bodies that forbid membership by politicians. This suggests that independent redistricting commissions represent an effective solution against partisan gerrymandering, provided they are staffed by citizens or independent public officials.

Type
Chapter
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Gerrymandering the States
Partisanship, Race, and the Transformation of American Federalism
, pp. 163 - 184
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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