OP-ED: Redistricting: Who Will Draw The Legislative Traces?

A Fair Maps Rally was held in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. The rally coincides with the U.S. Supreme Court hearings in landmark redistricting cases out of North Carolina and Maryland. The activists sent the

A Honest Maps Rally was held in entrance of the U.S. Supreme Courtroom on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Washington, D.C. | Supply: The Washington Submit / Getty

The interior workings of politics are sometimes about who holds the facility. In terms of redistricting, energy shouldn’t be held with politicians, however with the group that elects them.

Redistricting, or the redrawing of legislative districts, happens following a census, which implies each ten years districts should be redrawn to accommodate an equal distribution of populations and the allotment of congressional districts to the states.

Given the discharge of 2020 Census information earlier this yr, we’re in that window and the time to behave is now. Solely this time, the group will get to take part. We try this by going to redistricting hearings, encouraging others to do the identical and, in some circumstances, drawing maps that we want to see. With out our participation, elected officers can draw district traces in a approach that silences our vote.

If we ignore the method that mandates the place district boundaries are drawn, we run the chance of shedding our voice, of being forgotten, of being neglected and ignored at instances when it’s most important that we aren’t. For those who ask me, taking that threat is way too nice. We should map our personal future. We should draw our personal group traces to make sure that when assets are allotted, that they’re pretty distributed towards our communities, our kids, and our particular wants.

Let’s bear in mind, we elect politicians, they need to work for us…not the opposite approach round. When politicians take management of drawing district traces, they’re doing so in favor of their very own pursuits, of their very own agendas. Would you like a district purposefully redrawn in order that your consultant can nostalgically have his former highschool in his district even when he lives nowhere close to that top faculty? It has occurred. Would you need to be forcibly faraway from your personal district that features your group – the one that you’ve nurtured, fought for, organized, and beloved for a decade? It has occurred. What should you frolicked, vitality and cash to get your favourite consultant elected? Redistricting may take away that consultant and also you’d be left with one which you don’t want. Would you like that to occur?

Our communities labored tremendously exhausting in 2020. We flooded the polls, the streets and the airways to point out that our communities couldn’t be silenced. From social justice points, presidential elections, voting rights and extra, we’ve got spoken up. Nevertheless, we’ve got extra work to do. Now shouldn’t be the time to be complacent. Now shouldn’t be the time to suppose, “Another person will handle it.” Now could be the time to decide on, slightly than have decisions made for you.

Texas Legislature Returns For Third Special Session

Texas state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, seems at a map of state Senate districts within the Senate chamber on the primary day of the 87th Legislature’s third particular session on the State Capitol on September 20, 2021 in Austin, Texas. | Supply: Tamir Kalifa / Getty

We should be watchdogs.

The governor of Georgia has referred to as a particular session to begin on Nov. 3, 2021. Furthermore, we’re not sure if districts have already been drawn, and if that’s the case, our subsequent steps. Will we’ve got the chance to approve or disagree with what’s been drawn or will we be relegated to solely testify in regards to the standards?

We need to see the maps; we need to have the flexibility to touch upon the maps that will probably be offered, and we need to know the method accessible to us to current our personal maps, whether or not that will probably be in a legislature or solely in a courtroom scenario. We have to know these basic items. Now.

It really is crucial that all of us change into watchdogs on this scenario. It’s essential to name the U.S. Congress, your senators and representatives and ask them in regards to the legislature’s particular session relating to redistricting. Republicans maintain a majority within the Georgia state Home and Senate. Governor Brian Kemp is the only particular person who can set the agenda. We should observe and comply with this situation. We want redistricting on the prime of this agenda. I promise you, if we’re not watching, these individuals will do issues that aren’t in our greatest curiosity…we’ll see our energy diminished, we’ll see ourselves damaged up into items which have little voices slightly than one that’s unified and we’ll see we’re represented by those that neither appear to be us, share our background and values nor reply to and perceive us.

Whereas we’re at it, we additionally have to cross the John Lewis Voting Rights Development Act of 2021. Below this act, there will probably be additional safety towards redistricting. For instance, as said on Congress.gov, “states and political subdivisions that meet sure thresholds relating to minority teams should preclear lined practices earlier than implementation, comparable to modifications to strategies of election and redistricting.”

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Maps with current district traces are on show within the foyer, as constituents collect to voice their opinion to Home and Senate members through the Florida Legislature’s redistricting listening to in Orlando, on the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre downtown, on July 27, 2011. | Supply: Orlando Sentinel / Getty

Mapping our future.

In my very own group, we’re presently working with a demographer to attract our district. Based mostly upon standards set by regulation, and our needs, he’s drawing a plan that works for us. You are able to do the identical. Communities may work with a civil rights lawyer to problem unfair maps. There’s assist on the market, you should solely search it. For instance, within the final decade, group members have progressed authorized challenges that resulted in truthful district maps being drawn in a number of Southern states. It’s essential to merely inform your tales and act to get your curiosity thought of both legislatively or legally. Change can and can occur.

Communities should discover a approach to handle themselves, simply as we’re. Redistricting shouldn’t be a sophisticated course of. It merely depends on us ignoring the method of drawing district boundaries. Let’s not give politicians that benefit.

Helen Butler is the Government Director of Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda. As Government Director, Ms. Butler leads initiatives that enhance citizen participation within the governance of their communities.

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