Voting rights and partisan gerrymandering, traditionally the preoccupation of wonky party strategists and good-government groups, have become major flash points in the debate about the integrity of American elections, signaling high stakes battles over voter suppression and politically engineered districts ahead of the 2020 presidential race. When Democrats take the majority in the House on Thursday, the first bill they plan to introduce will be broad legislation focusing on these issues. Early drafts of their proposals include automatic voter registration, public elections financing and ending gerrymandering by using independent commissions to draw voting districts. But action and anger go far beyond Congress. With voters increasingly aware of the powerful impact of gerrymandering and doubtful about the fairness of elections, voting issues have become central to politics in key states including Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Questions about the health of American democracy are being raised in areas once thought to be wholly nonpartisan, as reflected in a court battle over whether the Trump administration is trying to use a question about citizenship on the 2020 census to undercount Democratic constituencies and limit their political clout.
Voters in five states last year passed ballot questions shifting the power to draw political districts away from partisan lawmakers.
In widely criticized lame-duck sessions of the Wisconsin and Michigan Legislatures, Republicans raced to strip powers from new Democratic governors, partly to protect their ability to gerrymander after the 2020 census.