This week, an interest group and LSU will hold a conference dedicated to making Louisianans think that the sky isn’t blue. LSU’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs will host Fair Districts Louisiana to discuss changing the way the state draws up its electoral districts. The group criticizes the current process as excessively partisan. As things now stand, members of the Louisiana Legislature draw electoral districts for themselves, Congress, the courts, and the Public Service Commission. Some other interest groups across the country also think there’s a better way to redistrict than relying on state legislatures with the input of governors. This procedure, used by most states for decades, has produced lines favoring the party in power and/or incumbents in office just after the census every 10 years triggers a new look at how districts are shaped.
Critics argue that some kind of supposedly impartial commission should have the job of drawing districts. A dozen states presently use such commissions. In most cases, the panels are made of obvious partisans, along with some other members who are supposed to be nonpartisan. Some states still lean on a politician-driven process, but use such a boards in an advisory capacity or as a backup when legislators and governors can’t agree on a plan in a timely fashion.
Unfortunately, enthusiasts of these redistricting panels don’t seem to realize that no method of reapportionment takes politics out of the process. Or maybe some champions of redistricting panels understand that politics is still involved, yet still embrace them because they think the panels will help legitimize their own political objectives. But regardless of the motives behind this so-called reform, redistricting commissions that produce depoliticized results are a myth.