Midwest a hotspot for census,
Participation crucial to full and fair representation
Gerrymandered election districts deprive voters of meaningful choices and heighten partisanship. New laws and processes must be put in place to create legislative bodies that are representative of the population.
Activity is ramping up as we count down to the 2010 Census, which kicks off the next redistricting season — and will ultimately determine who gets to represent the public in state capitols and Congress.
Many Midwest Democracy Network partner organizations are working to reform the way districts are drawn in their states, starting with helping to ensure a complete and accurate count of their state populations in the 2010 Census.
Every 10 years, the United States takes stock of itself. This inventory, mandated by the U.S. Constitution, aims to count every person living within our borders. The difficulty of accurately counting more than 300 million people is high; the impact of these census results is even higher.
Organizations affiliated with the Midwest Democracy Network are committed to achieving a complete and accurate 2010 census in our five-state region because:
1) A complete and accurate count promotes active participation in government.
2) A complete and accurate count is critical to securing adequate resources for programs and services people count on in the Midwest.
3) A complete and accurate count is essential to improving civil rights.
4) A complete and accurate count means a stronger democracy.
What does the census have to do with redistricting?
We rely on census results to allocate the number of representatives each state can elect to the U.S. House of Representatives and determine the number of electors each state will have in the Electoral College. In the 2010 census, four of the five Network states are in danger of losing a congressional seat due to changes in population.
These important numbers also provide the raw material for drawing district boundaries for our congressional, state, and local legislative elections. In order to have a properly functioning, accountable government, we must have a solid census foundation on which to build.
“A Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting” is a comprehensive look at the rules for drawing district lines, including a description of how redistricting works today, how it could work in the future, and why redistricting reform matters. It presents easy-to-follow graphics as well as in-depth, state-by-state analysis of different redistricting processes.
Recently, some Network partners were among a diverse set of groups agreeing to redistricting principles that focus on transparency in the process of drawing district lines.
The redistricting principles are:
1) An accurate and complete count in Census 2010 is an essential building block for all redistricting efforts.
2) The process used for redistricting must be transparent to the public.
3) The redistricting process, at all levels of government, must provide data, tools and opportunities for the public to have direct input into the specific plans under consideration by the redistricting body.
4) In order to achieve representative democracy, redistricting plans must be drawn in a manner that allows elected bodies to reflect the diversity of the populace, especially racial and ethnic diversity.
Isn’t the redistricting process a long way off?
After the results of the 2010 Census are in next year, it is off to the races for our governments to redraw district lines. Newspaper editorial boards from around our region are already tuned in to the action:
Illinois: Redistricting reform must be a priority
An editorial by the Springfield Journal-Register, recommends a change to the state’s redistricting process by looking at the gerrymandered 17th Congressional District and previous redistricting processes. The editorial recommends a proposal that would appoint a five-person temporary redistricting committee appointed by both party leaders in the Illinois House and Senate.
Michigan: State needs new way to draw maps
A Lansing State Journal editorial encourages a less politicized redistricting process, recommending Iowa’s independent commission as a model for reform.
Minnesota: A step toward a better redistricting process
A Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial explains how redistricting reform in the state is close, but could be held up when brought before the state’s House of Representatives.
An editorial by The Columbus Dispatch calls for lawmakers to reform the state’s redistricting process. They propose that revision of the state’s 132-year-old law could save the state up to $300 million a year.
Wisconsin: A map quest for a better Legislature
An editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal describes a contentious redistricting process and urges a plan that turns map drawing over to a nonpartisan body.
More Census Resources
U.S. Census Bureau - Census 2010, It’s in Our Hands
Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network - Nonprofits Count! 2010
AALDEF - Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Twenty10 Project Initiative
NALEO - National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Ya Es Hora!
League of Women Voters Minnesota - State of Democracy Minnesota
Ohio Citizen Action - Money in Politics Census