redistricting

Congress Isn’t Perfect but the Politicians Aren’t Always to Blame
Fixing the Hill is easier said than done

Politicians aren’t always to blame for the dysfunction in Congress and the perceived solutions are more complicated than many realize, Gonzales writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After 30 years of covering Congress, David Hawkings has a good idea of how Capitol Hill works — or more important, how it doesn’t — and he laid out five key reasons why Congress is broken.

But whether it’s money, maps, media, mingling or masochism, there are no easy solutions. Nor are they entirely the responsibility of the politicians to address.

The 5 M’s for Describing Why Congress Is Broken
Remembering the root causes of Hill dysfunction will surely be easier than correcting them

Explaining what ails Capitol Hill can be distilled to five elements: money, maps, media, mingling and masochism, Hawkings writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thirty years covering Congress leave me totally convinced the institution is more badly broken today than at any other point in my career, which means getting asked time and again to enumerate the causes for the deepening dysfunction.

Proposing how to cure the place of its metastasizing polarization and partisanship is up to the politicians who work there. But decoding what ails Capitol Hill is the central work of today’s congressional correspondent. And after plumbing the topic with hundreds of people in recent years — senators and House members, staffers and think tankers, lobbyists and advocates — I have reduced what’s a pretty complex diagnosis to five elements.

Bennet Fields Supreme Court Gerrymandering Punt
Colorado Democrat introduces bill to ban partisan redistricting at federal level

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., introduced a bill last week to ban partisan gerrymandering on a federal level. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After the Supreme Court dodged a definitive ruling on partisan redistricting last week, Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet is taking the gerrymandering debate to Congress.

Bennet introduced a bill last week to outlaw partisan gerrymandering at a federal level. If passed, the bill would end the practice of partisan gerrymandering, by which majority parties in state legislatures redraw congressional districts to finagle an advantage at voting booths.

Democrats Will Make Fairer Districts, Democrats Say
But historically, gerrymandering isn’t just a Republican issue

People demonstrate against partisan gerrymandering outside the Supreme Court last October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats say there’s one easy way to create more equitable and fair districts throughout the country: Elect more Democrats.

“More Democrats in office will give us fairer lines,” Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, said in an interview before the Supreme Court kicked back two cases on partisan gerrymandering to the lower courts on procedural grounds. 

Court’s Gerrymandering Punt Looks to Land in North Carolina
Current House map was drawn by partisan greed, its author says. Is that unconstitutional?

Gerrymandering activists gather on the steps of the Supreme Court on March 28 as the court prepares to hear the a Maryland partisan gerrymandering case. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When it sidestepped an opening to decide the future of partisan gerrymandering this week, the Supreme Court may have turned a tobacco grower and farm equipment dealer into one of the most important people in American politics.

The farmer and John Deere salesman, 47-year-old David Lewis, is also an influential state legislator who represents the rural geographic center of North Carolina — the state that will now be Ground Zero in the three-decadeslong debate over whether electoral boundaries can ever be drawn with so much partisan motivation that they’re unconstitutional.

Many 2020 Map Makers Will Be Decided This Cycle
Experts say 2018 midterms are still important for upcoming redistricting

Gerrymandering activists Helenmary Ball, left, posing as Maryland’s 5th District, and Rachael Lemberg, posing as the 3rd District, gather on the steps of the Supreme Court as the court prepares to hear the Benisek v. Lamone case in March. The case challenges Maryland’s 2012 congressional redistricting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 5/25/18 7:00 p.m. | More than three-fifths of governors deciding new district lines in the 2020 cycle will be elected this year, a new study by the National Conference of State Legislatures found.

One-third of state senators country-wide and all Alabama lawmakers will elected during the 2018 midterms will still be in office during the next redistricting cycle, the state government policy research group found. While redistricting seems a long way away, experts say the governorship and state races mean parties should be focusing on this year’s midterms.

Voters Challenge Ohio Congressional Map as Partisan Gerrymander
Supreme Court expected to rule on similar cases before term ends in June

Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty represents the 3rd District, which the lawsuit says is “shaped like a snowflake.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Civil rights groups and Ohio voters filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the state’s congressional districts as unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court readies decisions in similar cases about whether maps can be rejected if they entrench an advantage for one party.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, seeks a new congressional map for Ohio. But it almost certainly comes too late in the 2018 election cycle to affect districts ahead of the November vote. Ohio already held its primary election under the current map on May 8.

Ohio Passes Bipartisan Redistricting Ballot Initiative to Curb Gerrymandering
The new redistricting rules ban partisan gerrymandering through the state consitution.

Voters leave the Medina County Early Voting site. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot proposal Tuesday to reform the state’s redistricting process by requiring bipartisan cooperation in making new maps.

After polls closed, three-quarters of votes counted backed the ballot initiative. The measure asked voters if they wanted to amend the state constitution to require bipartisanship while drawing new congressional districts.

Charlie Dent Leaving Congress At Week's End
Special election for his Pennsylvania seat expected to occur same day as Nov. 6 general

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., is leaving Congress this week after submitting his formal resignation effective Saturday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Charlie Dent is serving his last week of Congress, having submitted his formal resignation effective May 12. 

Dent, co-chairman of the moderate Republican Tuesday Group, had announced on April 17 that he would be resigning sometime in May. His decision to leave Congress early came as he neared a decision on several professional opportunities he had been considering for his retirement. 

Texas Congressional Map Comes Under Supreme Court Scrutiny
Voter rights advocates worry the court could hand states a shield

Texas’ 35th District, represented by Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, is at the center of a gerrymandering case before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could not only require Texas to redraw its congressional districts, but give states a way to defend against claims of gerrymandering.

This is the third case the justices will hear this term about how states draw legislative maps to gain a political advantage. Cases from Wisconsin and Maryland focus on whether those maps can be too partisan. The Texas case is a more traditional challenge to how state lawmakers draw the lines using voter data.