It’s a good bet that recent court rulings on redistricting will embolden residents in other states to emulate Florida, Arizona, and California in adopting oversight measures and rules for redistricting or creating independent commissions to oversee the process. A Florida Supreme Court ruling last week ordering parts of the state’s congressional map to be redrawn affirmed the idea that, left unchecked, state legislatures will create uncompetitive districts and need oversight if the job is not to be taken away. The 5-2 ruling said that the state’s congressional map violates anti-gerrymandering provisions in Florida’s constitution by unfairly favoring Republicans and incumbent lawmakers. Not two weeks earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of an independent redistricting commission, established by Arizona voters in 2000 through the ballot-initiative process.
… Redistricting reform has long been considered a bit of a wonky subject, one that is not accessible to most people. But Americans’ distrust of politicians and dissatisfaction with politics as usual has made many voters realize that if they want to change the way this nation is governed they’ve got to change the way that lawmakers are elected. Hence the ballot initiatives in Arizona and California. There may not be enough time or funding for reformers in states with the ballot-initiative process to collect enough signatures to get a major redistricting measure on the 2016 general election ballot. But the recent court decisions have set the wheels in motion. Expect to see pressure on state legislatures to adopt reforms, with the backdrop that if they don’t, ballot initiative efforts will be undertaken in the coming years that could take redistricting power away from lawmakers altogether.