A few states have turned to independent or arms-length commissions to limit political influences when redrawing congressional and legislative districts. The Supreme Court, however, is hearing a case from Arizona that could jeopardize the future of these commissions. Commission supporters point to more competitive contests and new faces replacing incumbents as evidence of reduced gerrymandering, the deliberate drawing of often misshaped districts to benefit one party or the other. In California, a 14-member citizen panel of Republicans, Democrats and people who are not affiliated with either party redrew the state’s 53 congressional and 120 legislative maps in 2012. The realignment of political boundaries produced some of the most competitive congressional races in decades. Fourteen House incumbents either lost their seats or opted not to run under the new lines. Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, New Jersey and Washington also have set up commissions to redraw district boundaries after the new census every 10 years. A handful of others have formed panels to redraw only state legislature seats.
States set up their panels with different outcomes in mind, said Justin Levitt, an associate professor of law at Loyola University in Los Angeles, the creator of a website that tracks state redistricting efforts, http://redistricting.lls.edu/index.php .
Some states wanted to speed up an inherently political process often delayed for years in court; others sought to form districts that preserve like-minded voting blocs.
“There is no one perfect type of body,” Levitt said. “I don’t think that one state’s model should just be dropped into another state. Every state is a little bit different, and so it makes sense to think of institutions that really fit into the nature of those states.”
Full Article: Results from independent redistricting are mixed.