We all know that our democracy works best when everyone is able to participate and have their voice heard. Everyone deserves to have the opportunity to vote and have their vote count just as much as their neighbor’s vote. But for years, politicians have been working together to rig the system and pick their voters rather than the other way around by drawing legislative district maps that pack certain voters together in order to dilute their political power.
Voters took their power back last year by voting for an independent redistricting commission to redraw our legislative maps and ensure that voters pick their representatives. Unfortunately, we missed the opportunity to ensure the process was equitable. That’s why we can’t stop working now. We have to hold the commission accountable and make sure it does its job of drawing fair, equitable maps so that all of us have an equal say in our democracy.
Here’s three reasons why you should pay attention to the redistricting commission’s work.
- Just because a district is compact, doesn’t mean it keeps communities together. Some people think that we can avoid unfair districts if we just draw squares on a map. Except that’s not actually true. The real goal of the redistricting process is to draw maps that keep communities together in the same district. But communities don’t fit into square boxes. So we have to tell the members of the redistricting commission how we define our communities so that when they draw the maps, they keep us together.
- Members of the commission aren’t non-partisan. Some people have been calling the redistricting commission an “independent commission” but that doesn’t mean that the members are non-partisan. The commission is made up of legislators from both parties and also citizens. Two citizen members of the commission seem unnecessarily partisan. Jose Feliciano, drew fire for some of his public statements including degrading comments about women and attacking 2020’s fair and free elections. Another member, Marvin Gilliam, gave $927,019 to Republican political candidates. That doesn’t exactly sound like unbiased commission members who can make decisions to ensure that all of us are represented fairly.
- Public engagement will keep the commission honest. Members of the commission need to hear from members of the community about what we want in our district maps. If we don’t hold their feet to the fire and make sure they are being open, transparent, and fair in their decision-making process, we could end up with maps that don’t represent our communities for another 10 years. That’s not acceptable, so we have to do the work now to keep that from happening.
The next meeting of the redistricting commission is on Monday, April 26 at 10am. The deadline to sign up to give public comment is 10am on Sunday, April 25. Make sure you join us in signing up so you can tell the Commission what you think the districts should look like!