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Why it will likely be voters, not courts or lawmakers, that curb partisan gerrymandering

Significance of SCOTUS redistricting ruling
Why the Supreme Court's redistricting ruling is so significant 02:48

In a year when it became harder to fight partisan gerrymandering in the courts, efforts to curtail it legislatively are failing too.

In recent years, a growing number of states have upended the traditional redistricting process by creating independent redistricting commissions that make the process less political. In most states, the party in power draws election districts — which means the maps can be manipulated to give one political party an advantage. But independent commissions leave voting maps up to a bipartisan group of people, limiting the role of elected officials.

Eight states already have an independent redistricting commission, and legislation to create one was introduced this year in at least a dozen more states, according to Ballotpedia. But not one of those at least a dozen states passed the legislation. 

The bills failed to even make it out of committees in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. In New Hampshire, Republican Governor Chris Sununu vetoed the legislation. 

Bills are still pending in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. But prospects appear grim in Pennsylvania, where the bill has nearly 100 bipartisan cosponsors but has been stuck in committee since April. The same is true in Tennessee, where the bill has just one sponsor and hasn't seen any action since February.

Although legislators on both sides of the aisle support independent redistricting commissions, it may be up to the voters to weigh in on the issue. In 2020, questions that could create an independent redistricting commission may appear on ballots in Arkansas, Oregon, South Dakota and Virginia.

If they do, there's a high chance they will pass. According to a bipartisan poll by the Campaign Legal Center, at least 60% of Democrats, Republicans and Independents support turning redistricting over to an independent commission.

The states that already have an independent redistricting commission are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Montana and Washington. 

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