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Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

Sarbanes Leads Effort to End Partisan Gerrymandering

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Feb 16, 2017
Contact: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Chairman of the Democracy Reform Task Force, today co-sponsored and introduced legislation to end partisan gerrymandering and reform the nation’s patchwork redistricting system.

The Redistricting Reform Act of 2017 – authored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), introduced by 19 House Democrats and endorsed by Common Cause – will require states to establish independent, multi-party citizen redistricting commissions to conduct open and transparent statewide redistricting processes after each decennial census. The bill is a component of the “By the People” Legislative Package, advanced by the Democracy Reform Task Force.

“We must restore the public’s confidence in the way that Congressional districts are drawn,” said Congressman Sarbanes, Chairman of the Democracy Reform Task Force. “That’s why I am committed to creating national, independent and objective standards for drawing Congressional districts across the country. Rather than piecemeal reform on a state-by-state basis, implementing federal redistricting reform will ensure a more fair and impartial process for drawing Congressional districts.”

Under the Redistricting Reform Act of 2017:

  • Each state would be required to establish an independent, multi-party redistricting commission to draw Congressional district maps.
     
  • Specific eligibility requirements would ensure that commission members cannot have certain conflicts of interests – such as lobbyists, political donors or party operatives –and must reflect the diversity of the state while operating transparently.
     
  • Each independent commission would create districts that:
     
    • Have equal population per representative, in accordance with the U.S. Constitution;
    • Comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965;
    • Are geographically contiguous and compact, as well as have boundaries that minimize the division of any community of interest, municipality, county or neighborhood.
  • The commission must provide ample notice and opportunity for the public to provide input and engage in the redistricting process.

Click here for the bill text and a summary of the legislation.

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