Brennan Center article "Citizen's Guide to Redistricting" published

by , Jo McKeegan // Published December 1, 2010

Late this November the Brennan Center in New York published a “Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting,” a  comprehensive report on redistricting in America. Written by Justin Levitt with contributions from Erica Wood, the piece is designed to “engage citizens with the knowledge and tools they need to get involved with this round of redistricting, and to work towards continuing reform to open up the redistricting process in decades to come.”     

This 2010 edition is intended to not only serve as a guide to those already “in the know” such as academics and experts on emerging trends in gerrymandering, but also to introduce students,and policymakers to the variety of ways in which redistricting affects the day to day lives of citizens.

1812 Political Cartoon in response to Gov. Gerry's Redistricting

The work, over 100 pages long, includes information on districts in all 50 states as well as an analysis of concepts related to redistricting reform such as the history of the practice, and areas where redistricting is disproportionately effecting racial minorities ability to elect a candidate of choice. Using graphs, charts, pictures and other visual medium, the report both digests difficult topics like contiguity vs. compactness, while elevating the conversation to a higher academic level.

Notably, the paper also briefly discusses alternative voting structures such as cumulative voting and proportional representation as potential solutions to disenfranchisement issues found in the current first-past-the-post American system of elections.

The Citizen’s Guide ends with a section dedicated to a point by point detailed analysis on concrete and achievable changes to the current system that should be done with this round of redistricting.

The article is available here, or in print form by contacting the Brennan Center.