Policy Prediction: How To Draw Lines

Dec 27, 2017

I think I can confidently predict one political policy hot topic for the coming year: redistricting.

Also known as "reapportionment," it's come up no less than four times in meetings this past month alone.

 

What is it, you ask?

"The Legislature is charged every 10 years with redrawing political lines for everything from a city council district to their own districts," explains Jeremy Alford of Lapolitics.com.

Since the process won’t actually happen till 2021 (after the 2020 Census is completed), you’re probably also wondering why it’s coming up now.

"There’s a Supreme Court case pending right now, involving the voting lines that were drawn in Wisconsin. It could impact redistricting around the country," says Melinda Deslatte with Associated Press.

That case, Gill v Whitford, was argued before the United States' highest court in October. At issue is alleged partisanship in the way district lines were drawn after the 2010 Census — to favor one political party over another, and controlled by that legislature’s majority.

Greg Hilburn with Gannett newspapers elaborates: "Those districts have been drawn to where they're all your supporters, or at least supporters of your philosophy, whether that be Democrat or Republican."

When districts are changed for partisan purposes, it's also known as "gerrymandering."

A non-partisan group called "Fair Districts Louisiana" is holding a day-long seminar at LSU Jan. 19, to begin looking for ways to make Louisiana’s next re-apportionment process more transparent. Deslatte warns they're going to run into resistance from state lawmakers.

"Fundamentally, I don't see the Legislature wanting to give up the ability to re-do its own districts," she says. "I mean, if you got to pick which voters were going to elect you — or possibly not elect you — you know, why would you want to give that up?"

But then again, she says, "They may get forced into it, just purely by the Supreme Court ruling."