State legislatures across the country will undergo a deeply partisan process of drawing district lines using the new census data starting next year.


On election night (and throughout election week) most of us were very tuned in to the big national races, such as the presidential race and the races for congressional seats that could affect the balance of power in Washington.

Less noticed, but arguably equally consequential, were the races for thousands of seats in state legislatures around the country. Those races are important for lots of reasons, but they have a direct effect on national politics because it’s the majority party in state legislatures that get to create the voting districts that send representatives to Congress.

Republicans drew most of the district maps used during the past decade, and they’re responsible for some of the most flagrant examples of gerrymandering. That is, they drew district lines in funny ways to organize voting blocks in ways that practically guarantee success for GOP candidates in a majority of the districts in the state.

A 2018 Center for American Progress study showed that in the 2012, 2014, and 2016 elections an average of 59 candidates won House seats only because of unfairly drawn district lines. Of the 59, an average of 39 per election shifted in favor of the Republicans while an average of only 20 shifted in favor of Democrats.

The founders of the U.S. Constitution thought it should be lawmakers who are accountable to the citizenry who draw the electoral map. A lovely idea, but in real time it’s a bit like letting the winning team write the rules of the game.

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