When the Pew Research Center polled Americans about gerrymandering in 2006, 89% of respondents had never heard the term or knew little about it. Fast forward twelve years and gerrymandering is a cause célèbre, a focal point for widespread concern over the state of our democracy. This year, five states vote on constitutional amendments to block partisan gerrymandering and change how redistricting is done, far more than in any other year. Ohio approved its amendment in May with 75% support; four others –Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, and Utah — will vote in November. Nearly a million citizens in these states have signed petitions to bring these reforms to voters.
The five initiatives differ in the changes they envision to both the process and the purpose of redistricting. They differ in political context, in the degree of independence from elected officials, in what criteria redistricting should prioritize, and how competitiveness is treated. As this report details, the solutions cover the range of options on all the key variables, exactly what we look for from our state “laboratories of democracy.”