This article by Richard Pildes is published by Election Law Blog. Here is an excerpt:
Last month, Dave Wasserman, a redistricting expert, caused a stir when he predicted in a tweet that reforms which had created redistricting commissions in several states would end up costing Democrats 10-15 House seats if they could have ruthlessly gerrymandered commission states in which they controlled the legislature and Governor’s office. That tweet quickly went viral, with Seth Masket immediately picking it up in a Washington Post piece that accused Democrats of “unilateral disarmament.”
Put to the side that, in most of these states, it was the voters through the initiative process, not Democratic legislatures, that enacted these redistricting reforms. More importantly, there are two types of redistricting reforms, and Wasserman’s tweet focused on only one of them. The first takes the power to redistrict out of the hands of legislatures and shifts it to commissions of one type or another. The second leaves the power in the legislatures, but imposes substantive limits on partisan gerrymandering (the two reforms can also be combined). Wasserman’s tweet only addressed the first type of reform. But in any full analysis of redistricting reform, both types of reform must be part of the assessment.
That point is driven home by the Ohio Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down, under the state constitution, the legislature’s congressional maps. As part of redistricting reform there, voters adopted a constitutional amendment that prohibits a plan “that unduly favors or disfavors a political party or its incumbents.” When new plans are enacted and approved, estimates right now are that Democrats will net 2-3 additional seats.
Read the full article here.