Redistricting Battles

March 4, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 7
Can partisan gerrymandering be reformed?
By Alan Greenblatt

Introduction

As states redraw congressional maps to reflect 2020 census population changes, disputes are erupting over districts designed to favor one party, a process known as partisan gerrymandering. In both Republican and Democratic-controlled states, fewer House seats will be competitive this year. The political climate has become increasingly polarized, and gerrymandering has intensified despite polls showing that voters dislike the practice. In recent years, multiple states have passed ballot initiatives taking redistricting out of the hands of elected officials in hopes of fairer outcomes. The commissions they have created, however, have a mixed record of success. The Supreme Court has ruled that partisan gerrymanders cannot be challenged in federal courts. That decision, along with others weakening the Voting Rights Act, have made it easier for legislatures to draw maps that disadvantage minority voters, according to civil rights groups. Republicans are hoping new maps will favor them, but Democrats believe many seats will grow more competitive over time.

Photo of protestors against gerrymandering in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on October 3, 2017. (Getty Images/The Washington Post/Bill O'Leary)
Demonstrators call for an end to gerrymandering in 2017 in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Redrawn congressional districts that favor one party may contribute to political polarization, though polls show voters from both parties overwhelmingly oppose gerrymandering. (Getty Images/The Washington Post/Bill O'Leary)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Reapportionment, Redistricting, and Representation
Mar. 04, 2022  Redistricting Battles
Aug. 25, 2017  Redistricting Showdown
Feb. 25, 2011  Redistricting Debates
Apr. 11, 2008  D.C. Voting Rights
Feb. 16, 2001  Redistricting
Aug. 12, 1994  Electing Minorities
Feb. 15, 1991  Redistricting: Drawing Power with a Map
Feb. 05, 1982  Reapportionment: Year of Decision
Sep. 30, 1964  Reapportionment Struggle
May 03, 1961  Reapportionment in the Courts
Oct. 29, 1958  Unequal Representation
Oct. 10, 1950  Representation in the United Nations
Jan. 03, 1950  Legislative Apportionment
Nov. 08, 1938  Proportional Representation
May 13, 1929  The Census and Reapportionment
Dec. 06, 1927  Apportionment of Representatives in Congress
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections
Census
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Civil Rights Movement
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Internet and Social Media
Lobbying and Special Interests
Organization of Congress
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Protest Movements
Reapportionment and Redistricting
Reapportionment and Redistricting
Regional Planning and Urbanization
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations