In an effort to reduce the role of partisan bias in congressional district mapping and return power to the American voters, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) has introduced legislation to establish a set of standards centered on scientific and mathematical techniques.
The Fair and Inclusive Redistricting (FAIR) Map Act, H.R 7252, would direct the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study to develop guidelines, best practices and examples for congressional redistricting. The Academy’s recommendations would also have to maintain geographic contiguity, compactness, and comply with the constitutional equal population requirement as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“Our nation’s congressional districts are drawn by the very people who would benefit from partisan practices,” said Congressman McNerney. “This results in highly biased districts that can make elections unfair and discourage voters. My proposal seeks to increase transparency, starting with creating an impartial process free from self-interested influence. It puts our elections back in the hands of the voters.”
Gerrymandering, which is the manipulation of district boundaries to favor a particular political party, has become a high-profile issue in recent years, with legal challenges arising in a number of states. This past election, voters took action to try and curb gerrymandering, with three states voting to take the power of redistricting out of the hands of their state legislators.
“The act of drawing voting districts is vital to the functioning of American democracy,” said Karen Saxe, Associate Executive Director of the Office of Government Relations for the American Mathematical Society. “The mathematical and statistical sciences have always played a fundamental role in drawing voting district plans, and with modern predictive techniques and computing power, can play an even more powerful role in this process. The American Mathematical Society does not endorse any one approach or metric for measuring fairness of voting district plans. We do urge, however, that mathematics and statistical science be employed to evaluate the fairness of district plans. I applaud Representative McNerney’s efforts to set national, transparent standards that work toward enfranchising all voters.”
McNerney has long been a staunch advocate for evidence-based policymaking and good government reforms. As the co-founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Caucus, he has introduced legislation to amend the constitution to eliminate political action committees and ban dark money in politics.
McNerney serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties. For more information on McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.