NCAI News


New 50 State Report Finds Massive Failures in Redistricting Process

newsItem.name
Published on: 10/11/2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A coalition of national organizations advocating for a stronger democracy published a report today evaluating redistricting efforts across all 50 states, awarding just two states with an “A” grade while 20 states earned a “D” or an “F” for their failures in transparency, opportunities for public input, nonpartisanship, and empowerment of communities of color.

The comprehensive report authored by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Common Cause, Fair Count, and State Voices, published as part of the Coalition Hub for Advancing Redistricting and Grassroots Engagement (CHARGE), evaluates public access, outreach, and education in each state based on an analysis of more than 120 detailed surveys and more than 60 interviews. Drawn after the 2020 Census, the new maps will influence political outcomes and community representation for years to come, including the 2024 elections and numerous state and local offices across the country.

Each state’s grade reflects the state-level redistricting process. Some states received a second grade for their local redistricting process in cases where advocates provided data. Unlike partisan reports, this survey asked participants about the accessibility of the process, the role of community groups, the organizing landscape, and the use of communities of interest criteria.

States Earning “B” Grades and Higher:
California (A-)
Massachusetts (A-)
Alaska (B)
Colorado (B)
Iowa (B)
Maine (B)
Michigan (B)
Montana (B)
Vermont (B)

States Earning “F” and “D” Grades:
Alabama (F)
Florida (F)
Illinois (F)
North Carolina (F)
Ohio (F)
Tennessee (F)
Wisconsin (F)
Kansas (D-)
Kentucky (D-)
Louisiana (D-)
Mississippi (D-)
Texas (D-)
Georgia (D)
Idaho (D)
Indiana (D)
New York (D)
West Virginia (D)
Arkansas (D+)
North Dakota (D+)
South Carolina (D+)

“After a close look at all 50 states, this report shows more community voices produce better maps,” said Dan Vicuña, Common Cause National Redistricting Director. “When everyone can meaningfully participate and have their input reflected in the final maps, that’s how we achieve fair elections voters can trust. We found voting districts that prioritize community interests are the gateway to elections that lead to strong schools, a fair economy, and affordable healthcare.”

The CHARGE report concludes that the most powerful reform is independent, citizen-led commissions where voters—rather than elected officials—administer the process and draw maps. Independent commissioners were found to be more interested in fair representation and community input— rather than incumbent protection or party control.


"Tribal Nations are substantially underfunded in critical infrastructure areas such as housing, roads, broadband, education, and healthcare,” said Larry Wright, Jr., Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians. “To ensure equitable distribution of resources, all American Indian and Alaska Native voices must be included throughout the entire redistricting process to allow for equitable voting power and fair representation.”

The importance of independent redistricting commissions to a fair and transparent process was one of six key findings in the report, summarized below:

Independent Citizen Redistricting Commissions are the best way to integrate public feedback into maps.

Commissions with elected officials or that give elected officials power to appoint commissioners often lead to gerrymandered maps.

When elected officials draw maps, public input is not often prioritized or included in how district lines are drawn.

Community organizing was found to be successful in even the most partisan processes, particularly at the local level.

Despite driving population growth in states, communities of color are intentionally left out of the redistricting process.

Many states incorrectly equate fairness with new maps closely resembling old maps, even though the old maps were not fairly drawn, and do not account for demographic changes.

“Across the nation we saw politicians trying to silence and disenfranchise Black communities and communities of color,” said Marijke Kylstra, Redistricting Coordinator at Fair Count. “However, even if states with entrenched single party control and politician-controlled redistricting processes, significant wins for communities of color emerged at the local level because of strategic and hyperlocal grassroots organizing.”

The report also highlights recommendations for future redistricting cycles for pro-democracy organizers, advocates, and funders, including:

Link redistricting to Census outreach efforts so the public understands it is a two-step process to unlock community resources like housing, transit, etc.

Provide early funding to local groups so advocates can leverage the existing community organizing infrastructure and connect redistricting to those efforts.

Funding for community outreach should be appropriately distributed in every state as the report found evidence of gerrymandering even in non-swing states.

“Creating a more transparent and accountable democracy and building the power of communities of color demands a focused, long-term approach to organizing,” said Elena Langworthy, Deputy Director of Policy at State Voices. “Ahead of the next redistricting cycle in 2031, we must continue to engage communities around redistricting and its long-term impact. We will continue to support efforts that improve existing redistricting commissions and the creation of true independent commissions which remove extreme partisan gerrymandering.”

To learn more, view the report online or watch today’s press briefing.

###

About CHARGE:
CHARGE, the Coalition Hub for Advancing Redistricting & Grassroots Engagement, is composed of organizations uniting around the common goal that redistricting must be transformed to allow more voices to participate, be heard, and be represented. CHARGE member organizations include Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, Common Cause, Fair Count, League of Women Voters, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, NAACP, National Congress of American Indians, State Voices, and the Center for Popular Democracy.

About the National Congress of American Indians: Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information visit www.ncai.org.