States should establish independent redistricting commissions to determine the boundaries of congressional districts. Several models have been tried in different states in recent years.
While there is no single best model, the Brennan Center for Justice, through interviews with more than 100 people involved in state redistricting, has identified a set of best practices to ensure that redistricting commissions remain impartial and effective, including the following:
- Select commission members from a pool of citizen applicants. The selection process should be initiated with an element of random selection followed by the screening out of prospective members with conflicts of interest and assessment of their fitness for the task.
- Include enough members on the commission to represent geographic and demographic diversity of the state (the Brennan Center recommends 9-15 members).
- The commission should establish clear rules and priorities for redistricting before beginning the map-drawing process, maximizing transparency surrounding process and results. The commission should hold public hearings on the proposed redistricting map before finalizing it.
- The criteria commissions should consider when drawing a map should include equality of district populations, protection against minority vote dilution, avoidance of racial gerrymandering and partisan gerrymandering, geographical contiguity and compactness, and considerations of fairness and competitiveness, among others.
- The final map should be approved through a consensus mechanism that incentivizes compromise. For example, the commission could require that a map receive a certain number of votes of approval from each major political bloc represented in the commission.
“Redistricting Commissions: What Works,” Brennan Center for Justice, July 24, 2018, https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/redistricting-commissions-what-works.
“Designing Independent Redistricting Commissions,” Campaign Legal Center, July 17, 2018, https://campaignlegal.org/document/designing-independent-redistricting-c....