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Redistricting
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This next cycle of redistricting looks very similar to the last decade, in which most maps were subject to partisan gerrymandering.

Reform, interrupted: The new mapmakers mainly face the old  partisan rules

Next year's redistricting landscape is, at best, a mixed bag for good-governance advocates. Although the mapmaking process has become fairer and less politicized in a handful of states over the past decade, partisan gerrymandering will still have a profound impact on representation across most of the country.

Democrats had high hopes of taking back enough power in state legislatures to have close to parity in the line drawing with Republicans, but they were totally shut down on Election Day. At the same time, while Virginians voted to bleed politics out of the process, Missourians voted to push their state the opposite way. And proposals to reform the system in six states died because they could not get on the ballot, yet another consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

The result is a power dynamic for the next drawing of congressional and legislative boundaries that's only marginally different than a decade ago. The two parties will retain control over the process in 39 states, just three fewer than last time. And the GOP will run the table in twice as many states again, with only a hair less dominance over the Democrats than in 2011.

It is a far cry from a central aspiration of the democracy reform movement, which has a mantra about what it will take to fix the system: Voters must be able to pick their politicians instead of the other way around. And that can't happen if elected officials have the power to use contorted cartography to ensconce themselves in power for 10 years at a time.

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Ending prison gerrymandering is mainly justice for people on the outside

Miller is on the staff of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 civic engagement and democracy reform groups. (The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)
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Wisconsin Legislature

Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature retained power to draw district maps, including for the General Assembly.

There's a fairer way to draw the next maps, at least in my state

Kessler was a Democratic member of the Wisconsin House representing Milwaukee for 24 years between 1961 and 2019, interspersed by 11 years as a state trial court judge.
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Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images

Voters in Virginia approved a ballot measure to create a bipartisan redistricting commission.

One big ballot win, one big loss for the cause of redistricting reform

When it comes to fighting gerrymandering, the election produced one big step forward and one solid step back.

Voters in increasingly blue Virginia overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to redesign the legislative map-making process starting next year in a bid to make it less dominated by partisan power plays. But at the same time Tuesday, the electorate in reliably red Missouri narrowly decided to go the other way, with a rare repudiation of a citizen-driven effort to fix democracy's challenges endorsed just two years ago.

The votes were the last public input ahead of the national redrawing of congressional and state legislative district lines that happens once a decade, after the census. Results Tuesday suggest strongly that Republicans will control the mapmaking in a majority of states, as they did for the decade now ending. Measures to combat partisan gerrymandering failed to get on the ballot in four other states — Oregon, Nevada, Arkansas and North Dakota — because of the harsh difficulties of gathering petition signatures during a pandemic.

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