The Republican strategy to take back Congress in 2022 (and beyond) rests on eroding our representative democracy as much as they can.
No, really. We’re already seeing this strategy in action: Not only are Republican-controlled state legislatures across America enacting voter suppression laws that will make it harder for constituents to cast their ballots, but they’re also making sure that the voting power of those constituents is diluted through gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering is manipulating the map drawing process so that politicians can pick and choose their voters. It allows Republicans to draw districts to dilute the power of people who usually vote Democratic, making sure their grasp on districts is ironclad. In practice, this usually means communities of color are either packed into single districts or spread thin across many districts, even if they live in the same neighborhoods or towns, to ensure their voting power is minimized at the ballot box.
The result? Lawmakers are choosing their voters, instead of voters choosing their leaders.
Gerrymandering isn’t new. But right now we have a historic opportunity to end it by passing the For the People Act, which would require independent, nonpartisan redistricting for congressional seats nationwide.
Here are three reasons why it’s so urgent for the U.S. Senate to act NOW and put an end to partisan gerrymandering by passing the For the People Act.
1. The GOP is about to repeat its 2010 playbook
When Democrats won the presidency and Congress in 2008, the GOP took a hard look at America’s changing demographics and political landscape. Instead of trying to widen their appeal and reach more voters, they chose to abuse the 2010 redistricting process to entrench conservative power.
Districts are redrawn every 10 years after the census — and whichever party controls the state legislature usually runs the mapmaking process, although laws differ from state to state. Republicans spent millions of dollars to secure control of state legislatures in 2010 in order to draw congressional districts in a way that would ensure they could control the House of Representatives even while losing the nationwide popular vote.
After the 2010 gerrymandering, the GOP was able to gain at least 16 new House seats — cherry-picking voters to build districts that would favor conservatives and stymie progress.
2. But this time, it will be even worse
We are headed towards an even worse redistricting crisis if we don’t do something to stop it. Many of the conditions that allowed Republicans to gerrymander districts ten years ago are worse in 2021. This year, districts will be redrawn based on the results of the 2020 census — which the Trump administration did everything in their power to undermine and which happened in the middle of an unprecedented global pandemic.
The GOP currently controls 30 out of 50 state legislatures, putting them in the driver’s seat to gerrymander districts how they see fit. On top of that, the Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that federal courts can’t stop state legislatures from carrying out partisan gerrymandering, opening the door to further abuse.
3. Voters of color will be most impacted
Which communities will be hit the hardest by partisan gerrymandering and shut out of the political process? If what took place in 2010 is any indication, we know that voters of color will be the target of this partisan gerrymandering scheme.
Take what happened in North Carolina. After the 2010 Census, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature “packed” Black voters in the state into three districts, essentially designating those districts to the Democrats, but assuring Republican control in other districts in the state. The power of Black voters was diluted to secure Republican victory.
The For the People Act will stop partisan gerrymandering
We won’t stand for a Republican gerrymandering disaster in 2021; there’s simply too much at stake.
The For the People Act will stop this looming crisis by prohibiting partisan gerrymandering nationwide for congressional seats and instead requiring that independent redistricting commissions draw district maps. No more suppressing the power of communities of color by splitting their votes between districts.
Ready to fight back against partisan gerrymandering today? Make a call to your senators now and demand they pass the For the People Act as soon as possible.