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The State of Reform
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Download Unite America's free report analyzing the impact of four key political reforms.
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A handful of states are in the final stretch to get anti-gerrymandering measures on the November ballot.

Four states inch closer to redistricting reform

Four states are on the cusp of approving anti-gerrymandering petitions for the November ballot, but challenges still remain.

Putting independent commissions, rather than politicians, in charge of drawing district maps is widely regarded as the most effective way to combat partisan gerrymandering. Next year, following the census, 14 states will use such commissions to draw state legislative districts, and eight will do so for congressional districts.

Getting on the November ballot and leaving it up to the voters is the last chance Arkansas, Nevada, North Dakota and Oregon have to make the switch to an independent redistricting commission before maps are redrawn for the new decade. But the Covid-19 pandemic has made gathering signatures to qualify for the ballot especially difficult.

Here are updates on redistricting reform campaigns in those states.

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Signatures in hand, system-fix measures on track in two states

Bids to get a revamp of redistricting in Arkansas and expanded election reforms in North Dakota on statewide ballots have concluded after a difficult but apparently successful season of signature gathering.

The Covid-19 pandemic's stay-at-home orders and social distancing have made collecting signatures for ballot petitions especially challenging this year. Many groups have sued to relax petitioning rules, but the campaigns in both states were rebuffed in their efforts to get permission to use electronic signatures.

Organizers of both nonetheless got several thousand more handwritten signatures than required. They turned in their piles of paperwork to state officials Monday — confident they had beaten the odds to join other prominent democracy reform initiatives where voters will have the final say in November.

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Redistricting reformers to Oregon voters: You've got mail

In keeping with social distancing mandates, crusaders against partisan gerrymandering in Oregon have settled on a new old-fashioned way to recruit allies: Send a letter, by snail mail.

With the coronavirus pandemic ruling out traditional in-person canvassing across the country, many grassroots democracy efforts have gone silent — some after failing to get permission to obtain electronic signatures for their ballot measures.

Redistricting reformers in Oregon aren't going down the online route. Instead they are mailing copies of their ballot proposal, which would turn legislative mapmaking over to an independent redistricting commission, to half a million residential addresses in search of handwritten endorsements.

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