DearColleague.us

Letter

Edward Markey

From the office of:

Edward Markey

From: The Honorable Zoe Lofgren
Sent By: antigona.kukaj@mail.house.gov
Date: 4/30/2015

Dear Colleague:
There is a hybrid system developing in our country regarding how Congressional district lines are drawn. In many states, these lines are drawn by a state legislature, although this partisan method is under increasing scrutiny as many voters believe it will allow the party in power to manipulate the drawing of district lines and guarantee re-election for incumbents, lead to less competitive races and deprive citizens of fair representation. As a result, states including Arizona and California, have implemented independent redistricting commissions. The power of these commissions to draw district lines is currently being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Redistricting Reform Act of 2015 reforms this hodgepodge redistricting system. By requiring all states to form independent citizen redistricting commissions to draw its Congressional district lines, our bill creates a redistricting effort that respects and represents all communities. It ensures that the process is as open, fair, and depoliticized as possible.
Under the Redistricting Reform Act of 2015:
Each state would be required to establish an independent, multi-party redistricting commission to draw that state’s Congressional district map one time after each decennial census
Certain requirements for the makeup of an independent redistricting commission must be met to safeguard the independence and impartiality of the commission, ensure that it reflects the diversity of the state and works transparently
A non-partisan agency established or designated by a state must develop and submit a selection pool to a Select Committee on Redistricting which is composed of 36 individuals from the majority and minority as well as individuals non-affiliated with either major party
The selection pool must reflect diversity: representative demographic groups (races, ethnicities, and genders) and geographic regions of the state; analytical skills of the individuals and a person’s ability to work impartially
The final pool must represent diversity and can be accepted or rejected by a Select Committee of the legislature (the legislative committee)
The legislative committee would be made up of members appointed by the majority and minority leader in both houses, or in a unicameral legislature, by two individuals appointed by the minority and two by the majority
If the legislature rejects the pool: the nonpartisan agency established or designated by a state has two more chances to submit a diverse pool to the legislative committee for approval
The legislative committee cannot reject individual candidates, but only the pool, and must give a report as to why a pool is rejected (to ensure fair representation and guard against a skewed selection pool)
The criteria for a redistricting plan developed by the independent commission provides that districts must: have equal population per representative, in accordance with US Constitution; comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965; be geographically contiguous; have boundaries that minimize the division of any community of interest, municipality, county, or neighborhood; and be geographically compact
The independent redistricting commission must provide notice and an opportunity to the public to engage in the process
Maps automatically take effect if a majority of the commission (including at least one commissioner from each group) approves; if the commission fails to approve after multiple attempts, a D.C. District court will create the maps
The commission gets several attempts to reach a majority for an agreement on a redistricting map before a court can intervene
Please join us in our effort to bring true redistricting reform to our federal elections.
Current Cosponsors (19): Boyle, Brownley, Capps, S. Davis, Edwards, Eshoo, Larson, Lieu, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Norton, Pelosi, D. Price, Sarbanes, Schiff, Swalwell, M. Thompson, Van Hollen, Yarmuth
Supporting Organizations: Common Cause and National Council of La Raza
For more information or to become an original cosponsor, please contact Antigona Kukaj with Rep. Lofgren at antigona.kukaj@mail.house.gov by COB Wednesday, April 29.
Sincerely,
ZOE LOFGREN JULIA BROWNELY ALAN LOWENTHAL
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress
DONNA F. EDWARDS JOHN B. LARSON JOHN YARMUTH
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN
Member of Congress