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house Bill H.R. 219

Should States Have to Use Independent Redistricting Commissions?

Argument in favor

Gerrymandering blatantly manipulates voting districts to serve political interests. Independent commissions in each state would take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and make elections more competitive to actually serve the people.

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08/19/2015
“Today’s Supreme Court decision is an important step in the fight against voter suppression. When congressional districts are controlled by partisanship it is bad for voters and our democracy. Allowing non-partisan commissions to draw district lines will help combat the hyper-partisan gerrymandering we have seen in some states. We still must go further—it’s time to restore the Voting Rights Act, expand early voting periods and make it easier for people to vote, not harder.” [sanders.senate.gov]
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BarackObama's Opinion
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08/19/2015
"A nonpartisan process for determining Congressional districts — that you can encourage a little more thoughtfulness, a little bit more interest in, you know, appealing to the, the basic common sense and goodness and decency of the American people, rather than just an — a narrow sliver of your base.” [ivn.us]
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Jeff's Opinion
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07/02/2015
Gerrymandered districts are among the root causes of the gridlock in congress today. Districting should not be in the hands of the parties who stand to benefit from it directly.
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Argument opposed

If the people of a state want to avoid gerrymandering, they’ll encourage reform with the way that they vote, and the representatives they elect. It isn’t the federal government’s place to mandate that states use a certain method of redistricting.

Jim2423's Opinion
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07/01/2015
Keep these type of things within the state.
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Ralph's Opinion
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07/04/2015
And exactly who do you think will be appointing these commissions. Total waste of time and effort.
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Loraki's Opinion
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09/30/2016
For one thing, I can't see how the federal government has any right to dictate a solution to gerrymandering to the states. As for an "independent redistricting commission," how are you going to ensure that they reach their decisions in a politically unbiased manner? We have some Supreme Court judges (and lower court judges, too) who let their political bias affect their judgments! And don't forget the mainstream media! They're supposed to be unbiased in reporting the news, but they're obviously bought and paid for! I keep telling you that you folks made a HUGE mistake in removing God from government and the schools! The best solution for gerrymandering is raising the MORAL STANDARDS of our society! Christianity (as exemplified by the New Testament Christians) is the antidote to corruption. Because many of you misinterpreted the Constitution, be it intentionally or through ignorance, you are now reaping what you sowed. You were like the Hebrew people of the Old Testament times: they eventually reached a point where they rejected God's rule over them. They wanted to be ruled by a king like the surrounding nations. God let them have their way. Turning your back on God never works out well for individuals OR FOR NATIONS!
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 8th, 2015

What is House Bill H.R. 219?

This bill would restrict congressional redistricting in states before 2020 — requiring all states to create an independent redistricting commission to divide and assign Representatives. The bill aims to keep state legislatures from gerrymandering — the practice of drawing or manipulating congressional districts to favor a political party or economic class. 

The independent redistricting commissions for each state would be required to hold their meetings in public and have a publicly available website to publish proposals and data. Commissions would be responsible for developing redistricting plans and submitting them to the legislature after giving public notice seven days before submission.

The state legislature could approve or reject the commission’s plan but would be prohibited from amending it. If a state’s governor doesn’t sign a plan by November 1st of the year before a congressional reapportionment, the commission could pass its plans along to the state’s highest court. If the state court fails to select a plan, the federal district court would be responsible for developing a final redistricting plan.

States would be prohibited from redrawing their districts' boundaries at any time except during the reapportionment that coincides with the Census. Exceptions to this rule would be made if a court orders a state to review its districts to comply with the U.S. Constitution or enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Impact

Voters in every state, state legislators, independent redistricting commissions, state courts, federal courts, and governors.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 219

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: This particular piece of legislation has been introduced in every Congress since the 109th, which covered the years 2005 and 2006. Former Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) sponsored it from the 109th until the 111th Congress, and former Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) introduced the legislation in the 112th Congress.

In recent years, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) has taken up the cause, introducing this bill in the 113th and 114th Congress. In a press release, Rep. Cohen said that: 

“It’s time to take politics out of the redistricting process. Congress is so polarized today that we’re unable to find common ground on the major issues facing our country. Instead of solving our nation’s problems, Congress is just kicking the can down the road and waiting until the next election for answers. I believe that if we eliminate the gerrymandering of districts we will help get more accomplished for our country.”

Of Note: Currently there are 13 states that rely on independent commissions to do their redistricting. Three more have advisory commissions to assist the legislature, and another five have backup commissions to draw district boundaries if the legislature fails to meet a deadline.

Arizona’s independent redistricting commission was the subject of a Supreme Court challenge by state legislators who argued that the U.S. Constitution reserves the right to determine the when, where, and how of Congressional elections. In a 5 to 4 ruling, the Supreme Court sided with the redistricting commission — thus allowing it to continue drawing federal election boundaries. The ruling is especially noteworthy, because a day after the ruling the Supreme Court took up another case involving the Arizona's commission's districts for state elections.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user paytonc)

AKA

John Tanner Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act

Official Title

To prohibit States from carrying out more than one Congressional redistricting after a decennial census and apportionment, to require States to conduct such redistricting through independent commissions, and for other purposes.

    “Today’s Supreme Court decision is an important step in the fight against voter suppression. When congressional districts are controlled by partisanship it is bad for voters and our democracy. Allowing non-partisan commissions to draw district lines will help combat the hyper-partisan gerrymandering we have seen in some states. We still must go further—it’s time to restore the Voting Rights Act, expand early voting periods and make it easier for people to vote, not harder.” [sanders.senate.gov]
    Like (195)
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    Keep these type of things within the state.
    Like (8)
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    "A nonpartisan process for determining Congressional districts — that you can encourage a little more thoughtfulness, a little bit more interest in, you know, appealing to the, the basic common sense and goodness and decency of the American people, rather than just an — a narrow sliver of your base.” [ivn.us]
    Like (67)
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    Share
    Gerrymandered districts are among the root causes of the gridlock in congress today. Districting should not be in the hands of the parties who stand to benefit from it directly.
    Like (44)
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    Share
    Dear god please, I don't care so much who wins as long as it's a fair process.
    Like (20)
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    Gerrymandering is the greatest threat to democracy! According to the CATO Institute 90% of Americans live in districts where their votes do not make a difference due to districting. Politicians decide who gets to vote for them, we don't decide who gets our vote.
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    The majority remain the majority when they own the playing field.
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    As a citizen that was born and raised in a fundamentally gerrymandered area of VA I would love to see FULLY INDEPENDENT groups to redistrict my state.
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    And exactly who do you think will be appointing these commissions. Total waste of time and effort.
    Like (7)
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    For one thing, I can't see how the federal government has any right to dictate a solution to gerrymandering to the states. As for an "independent redistricting commission," how are you going to ensure that they reach their decisions in a politically unbiased manner? We have some Supreme Court judges (and lower court judges, too) who let their political bias affect their judgments! And don't forget the mainstream media! They're supposed to be unbiased in reporting the news, but they're obviously bought and paid for! I keep telling you that you folks made a HUGE mistake in removing God from government and the schools! The best solution for gerrymandering is raising the MORAL STANDARDS of our society! Christianity (as exemplified by the New Testament Christians) is the antidote to corruption. Because many of you misinterpreted the Constitution, be it intentionally or through ignorance, you are now reaping what you sowed. You were like the Hebrew people of the Old Testament times: they eventually reached a point where they rejected God's rule over them. They wanted to be ruled by a king like the surrounding nations. God let them have their way. Turning your back on God never works out well for individuals OR FOR NATIONS!
    Like (6)
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    Voters need to be in control of political power.
    Like (5)
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    I live in a gerrymandered district & I've noticed that most people I know either 1) don't know it OR 2) feel so powerless & disgusted that their response has been stop voting altogether. After a while, a broken system breaks the participants! In FL, where like D.C., almost nothing works, ending gerrymandering might revitalize a corrupt political landscape. Having a criminal as governor doesn't really help!
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    I do not trust the States to regulate the districts by common interests. Why let the fox watch the hen house. Gerrymandering districts does not serve the people and appears to negate votes.
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    The system is very broken when politicians can manipulate the map to ensure huge blocs of voters are rendered voiceless. Gerrymandering is an affront to democracy and while there is no guarantee that an independent group would not have its own bias or scandal, there is a guarantee that it will continue to be abused if left unchecked.
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    Why do politicians feel they know what's best for we the people. It is we the people who have empowered these politicos and we need this to ensure we the people can unseat these egomaniacs
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    This is the only way we can prevent the rampant gerrymandering that we see within certain states, producing a congresssional map that is actually representative of the people within a state.
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    Gerrymandering is the bane of the election process. It's political bordering on corruption. Let's keep things fair, just, impartial and unbiased.
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    This bill will set the foundation for a true representative democracy, not one manufactured by politicians seeking reelection.
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    It’s absolutely ridiculous that a single party is in charge of the districting in a state. There is literally no checks or recourse for abusive districting processes. This is a step in the right direction for fixing the problems in our voting system as a whole. Next is the Winner-Take-All system in our electoral college.
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    States provide a check on the federal government. Giving more power to the federal government over elections dilutes that check further concentrating power in the hands of fewer people and that never ends well in the long run.
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