The drawing of legislative districts is supposed to be a once-a-decade process, completed shortly after the U.S. Census Bureau provides updated population numbers. But in some states, the map-drawing based on the 2010 count—the most litigious in recent memory—is still dragging on. Courts will likely draw maps for Florida and Virginia after legislators in those states failed to agree on new maps to replace earlier ones thrown out by judges. Alabama may need to redraw its district lines after the Legislative Black Caucus went to court arguing that Republican state legislators drew them to reduce the voice of minority voters. Democrats in Wisconsin are arguing that GOP lawmakers did the same to their voters. And a case in Texas could change the “one man, one vote” standard. Though in some states commissions are responsible for drawing U.S. congressional and state legislative maps, in most it is up to state legislators to do the job. “There are more cases at this time, post-2010 redistricting, than there have been in quite some time, certainly more than there were a decade or 20 years ago,” said Jeffrey Wice, a redistricting attorney who has advised a number of states and caucuses, primarily Democratic, on how to draw their borders.
There are several reasons for the increasing discord, according to Wice. One is that Republicans now dominate statehouses to an extent not seen since the 1920s, emboldening them to draw maps that go further in favoring their party.
Technology is another factor: New mapmaking software allows legislators to slice and dice populations more finely than ever before. At the same time, lawyers and judges can look at what was said in email exchanges to challenge lawmakers’ intent when they drew such maps.
Drawing legislative districts to give an edge to one party, commonly called “gerrymandering,” has been going on in the U.S. for at least two centuries, and most states still don’t explicitly prohibit it. (The term “gerrymander” comes from the name of a 19th century Massachusetts governor, Elbridge Gerry, who signed into law an unpopular redistricting plan that included one state Senate district shaped like a salamander.) But some studies show it is a growing problem.
Full Article: Court Cases Leave States Stuck in Redistricting Limbo.