Responding to complaints about partisan gerrymandering, a significant number of states this year are considering changing the criteria used to draw congressional and state legislative districts or shifting the task from elected officials to citizen commissions. The proposals, being advanced both as ballot initiatives and legislation, are part of a larger battle between the political parties to best position themselves for the aftermath of the 2020 Census, when more than 400 U.S. House districts and nearly 7,400 state legislative districts will be redrawn. Since the start of this year, more than 60 bills dealing with redistricting criteria and methods have been introduced in at least 18 state legislatures, already equaling the total number of states that considered bills last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The Ohio Legislature already has placed a redistricting measure on the state’s primary ballot in May. Citizen efforts are underway to get redistricting measures on the November ballot in a half-dozen other states, which would mark the greatest number of such initiatives in decades.
Supporters already have submitted thousands of petition signatures in Michigan and South Dakota. Petitions are currently being circulated in Missouri and Utah. Colorado has two groups working on potential ballot initiatives. And an Arkansas attorney launched an initiative effort last week.