This Week in Redistricting – A Tale of Two Stories

October 1, 2021

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Fabiola Rodriguez rodriguez@democraticredistricting.com

Hi All —

This week the first congressional maps of the cycle passed in a few states, and even more states released draft maps for review.  The takeaway so far: like many issues in our country right now, redistricting is a tale of two stories. 

In the states controlled by Republicans — like OhioGeorgia and Texas — we are seeing massive gerrymandering.  They are doubling down on the incredibly rigged maps from 2011 by sharpening and entrenching the gerrymanders of the last decade.  This means they are diluting the voting power of communities of color, eliminating ALL competitive seats from the map, and shoring up their own incumbents for the decade.  

In stark contrast, in the states not entirely controlled by Republicans — such as Oregon (where the first maps of the decade were passed!),  ColoradoNebraska, and Maine — the redistricting process is resulting in compromise and fair maps. 

This is an incredibly consequential time in our democracy.  We are fighting to protect and strengthen our representative democracy from a party that believes more in protecting their own power than they do in our democracy.  The fight is urgent, but we are ready and we can do this.  

Please see below for key news stories highlighting this tale of two stories.  We’ll keep you updated as the redistricting process continues and maps move forward across the country. 

Thanks!

Kelly 

Highlights: Extremely Gerrymandered Maps On The Move…

GEORGIA: 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: First Proposed Georgia Congressional Map Could Help GOP Pick Up a Seat

Republicans who hold a majority in the Georgia Senate released the first draft map for new congressional districts Monday, a proposal that shifts political borders and would help the GOP gain a seat if approved.

That is not an easy task because the 2020 census showed Georgia’s suburbs had exploded in population and increased in diversity. These areas are therefore becoming more Democratic-leaning. […]

State Sen. Elena Parent, a Democrat from Atlanta, said the Republican-drawn map is an attempt to grab more political power in a new, more conservative 6th District.

”It’s a gerrymander to try to get back a congressional seat they lost in defiance of the votes of Georgia voters and in the interest of partisan gain,” Parent said. “But given how fast population trends are changing around metro Atlanta, this particular 6th might still be competitive.”

OHIO: 

The Washington Post: A Deeply Cynical Moment in Gerrymandering From the Ohio GOP

Ohio voters in 2015 and 2018 strongly backed constitutional amendments designed to rein in gerrymandering — i.e., the process of drawing districts to favor one party or another. But the state’s redistricting commission, which is controlled 5 to 2 by Republicans, just approved state legislative maps that include supermajorities of districts favoring the GOP. About 70 percent of state Senate seats and at least 62 percent of state House seats favor Republicans, despite the state’s voters generally giving Republicans about 54 percent of the vote. Even in casting the decisive votes, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) expressed reservations about the constitutionality of the maps.

Spectrum News 1: Second Lawsuit Filed Against Ohio Redistricting Commission 

“These maps all but guarantee Republican supermajorities in both the Ohio State Senate and the state House, giving the GOP two-thirds of the seats in each body. Now, they have not earned that level of representation from Ohio voters,” said [Eric] Holder.​

TEXAS: 

Axios: Mapped: No Majority-Hispanic Districts Added in Texas 

“The congressional map confirms what we knew Texas Republicans would do: decrease the number of competitive seats, ignore the growth and influence of communities of color and gerrymander for power,” said President Kelly Ward Burton.

Texas Tribune: Texas Reduces Black and Hispanic Majority Congressional Districts in Proposed Map, Despite People of Color Fueling Population Growth

Republicans constructed the map with incumbent protection in mind — a strategy that focused on bolstering vulnerable GOP seats rather than aggressively adding new seats that could flip from blue to red. However, the map does in fact strengthen Republican positioning overall in Texas, going from 22 to 25 districts that would have voted for Donald Trump in 2020. The number of congressional districts that voted for Joe Biden would have shrunk by one, from 14 to 13.

The redrawing of district maps is intended to reflect population growth captured by the latest census. People of color accounted for 95% of the state’s growth over the last decade, but in the new map there’s one less Hispanic majority district and zero districts with a Black majority. The latest census results show Hispanic Texans nearly match the number of white Texans.

Houston Chronicle: GOP Lawmakers Swear New Texas Redistricting Maps Are ‘Race Blind’, as They Did a Decade Ago 

Texas’ 4 million-person population growth over the past decade has been driven almost entirely by people of color, especially Latinos, but the proposed maps for the state Senate and Congress do not create any new districts where those voters are a majority. The state Senate’s draft redistricting map takes one away.

The result: While Texas has roughly equal proportions of Latino and Anglo residents, there are twice as many majority-Anglo congressional districts in the state (19) as Hispanic -majority districts (9) in the Republican-proposed maps — a disparity that grows wider in the new map, according to an analysis by the Texas Hearst Data Visualization Team.

Highlights: Fair and Compromise Maps On The Move…

COLORADO

AOTL Statement: “The congressional map approved for submission to the Colorado Supreme Court marks a critical but not final step in Colorado’s redistricting process. The commission has engaged in months of public input and meaningful commissioner deliberation which confirms the independent commission process approved by Colorado voters in 2018 works. It is now up to the Colorado Supreme Court to deliberate the merits of the map. As this process continues, All On The Line Colorado will remain engaged and committed to ensuring the growing and diverse population across the state is appropriately represented this decade.”  – Marco Dorado, Colorado All On The Line State Director

Denver Post: Colorado’s New Congressional Districts Are Set – and in Need of Supreme Court Approval 

Colorado’s newest congressional district, covering the north Denver suburbs, would be its most competitive under a map approved by the state’s independent redistricting commission.

After considering almost 200 different alignments starting in early summer, the commissioners ultimately reached an 11-1 agreement on their top choice late Tuesday in a marathon meeting that included seven rounds of voting and hours of debate over whether to split up certain communities and about how competitive the map should be.

All that’s needed now to make the eight districts official is the Colorado Supreme Court’s approval, which is expected in November. (The court can also send input, and possible changes, back to the commission.)
 

OREGON

NDRC Statement: “This compromise map does not contain everything put forward by either Republicans or Democrats – it is a compromise that accurately reflects the makeup of the state as a whole and took into consideration the diverse input from members of the public.  Importantly, the new map protects key communities of interest and preserves a competitive seat for the next decade.”   – Kelly Burton 

Politico: Oregon Enacts New Congressional Map After GOP Walkout Ends 

Oregon on Monday became the first state to redraw its congressional map for the next decade, passing a plan that creates four Democratic districts, a safe Republican seat and one potential battleground.

The new map marked the end of a bitter partisan standoff. State House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Democrat, gaveled the legislature into session on Monday morning, hours before a redistricting deadline, after a nearly week-long delay caused by a Covid scare and a Republican boycott. The agreement: Republican state representatives returned, and in return Democrats did not muscle through a map that would have given them solid control of five of the state’s six districts. 

MAINE

Associated Press: Maine Completes Redistricting Without Gerrymandering Drama

The Maine Legislature approved new congressional, legislative and county commission maps Wednesday without bitter bipartisan fights and gerrymandering that plagued efforts in other states.

All the maps were approved by a two-thirds majority in both chambers and Gov. Janet Mills wasted no time in providing her signature, making Maine the second state, after Oregon, to complete the redistricting process.
 

NEBRASKA 

WOWT 6 News: Redistricting in Nebraska: Governor Signs Off on Final Maps 


Nebraska’s new redistricted maps have been approved. The Unicameral gave its final approval to the six maps, redrawn based on 2020 Census data, on Thursday morning, sending the bills to Gov. Pete Ricketts for his signature. He signed the legislative bills shortly thereafter.

Changes to Dist. 27 in Lincoln had caused some upheaval during the special session this week. The new legislative map contains some significant changes to Lincoln, with some of the rural districts reaching into the city.The new Congressional map keeps all of Douglas County in the 2nd District, along with western Sarpy County. It also adds Saunders County to Dist. 2. 

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