Seizing on a national spotlight about the drawing of political maps, Louisiana residents trying to rework the state’s system for divvying up electoral districts on Wednesday (Nov. 1) announced a January summit they hope will bring about changes. “We have a problem with the current structure,” said Stephen Kearny, chairman of the event and co-founder of a grassroots, bipartisan group called Fair Districts Louisiana. “No matter how virtuous our politicians are, the conflict of interest in being able to choose your own voters in itself provokes bad behavior.” Fair Districts Louisiana is working with LSU’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs on the daylong summit on Jan. 19. The event aims to start talks about revamping Louisiana’s current map-drawing method ahead of the next redistricting cycle tied to the 2020 Census.
Every decade after the release of the latest Census data, states redraw their political maps to address population shifts. In Louisiana, as in most other states, the legislature determines the electoral districts for congressional, state House and state Senate seats.
The maps have prompted lawsuits in several states, amid growing criticism that political parties are using legislative control to give themselves unfair electoral advantages. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case challenging the way Wisconsin Republicans drew districts that could lead to changes across the country.