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The Power of Now
Thursday, June 3, 2010
(New York, New York) – Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) released Independent Redistricting Commissions: Reforming Redistricting Without Reversing Progress Toward Racial Equality.
The report provides an overview of independent redistricting commissions and examines their potential impact on minority voting rights. The report notes that our nation’s unfortunate history of persistent and adaptive racial discrimination in the electoral process demands a careful examination of independent redistricting commissions and all redistricting reform proposals.
With the next redistricting cycle quickly approaching, LDF encourages vigilance in monitoring any late efforts to change the rules that will govern the way in which redistricting plans are drawn.
“Independent redistricting commissions strip redistricting responsibility away from elected officials and transfer that responsibility to individuals who are not accountable to the electorate and who may have little to no experience with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act. We must therefore ensure that redistricting is guided by principles consistent with the Voting Rights Act. By themselves, independent redistricting commissions do not ensure that the process will be fair or that a final redistricting plan will protect minority voting rights,” said John Payton, LDF President and Director Counsel.
While some independent redistricting commission proponents have touted the commission’s ability to reduce the influence of partisanship on the process, little attention has been given to the ability of commissions to produce plans that comply with the important and central requirements of the Voting Rights Act. Indeed, in the 2000 redistricting cycle, the United States Department of Justice rejected a proposed redistricting plan adopted by an Arizona independent redistricting commission because of the plan’s discriminatory effect on minority voters.
“The opportunity for minority communities to elect candidates of their choice can be, and often is, dramatically affected by the drawing of district lines. Unfortunately, many independent redistricting commission proposals do not include features that would adequately safeguard minority voting rights,” said Jenigh Garrett, LDF Assistant-Counsel.
Please click the link below to access the report: