State Decoupage Commissions Receive Mixed Reviews
With control of Congress on the line in next year’s election, experts expect the House’s new set of cards to be a determining factor in determining who will control the chamber in 2023 – and in most cases. States, state legislators always oversee the process. Ten states have some sort of independent commission that draws the maps, five have advisory commissions like the one in New York, and three more have “fallback” commissions like the one in Ohio, which support the redistribution plan though. the state legislature does not.
Reformers seeking to end partisan gerrymandering believe that, by and large, the commissions have helped states get fairer maps. Joe Kabourek, senior campaign manager for anti-gerrymandering group RepresentUs, said the maps drawn by the legislature were much worse for voters in general.
The group has partnered with the Princeton Gerrymandering Project to assess legislative maps for partisan fairness, compactness, and other metrics. On average, the states in the commission averaged a “B” rating card, while lawmakers received an average “D” rating.
“We think the proof is in the pudding on this; these commissions produce better charts on a rating scale than politicians say, but I think it’s quite predictable, ”Kabourek said.
However, geographic polarization can prevent states like Iowa, Arizona and Michigan from drawing maps that represent the state’s overall competitiveness, according to Jowei Chen, professor of political science at the University of Michigan. He told attendees at a Duke conference on redistribution earlier this year that other considerations in mapping, like dividing as few counties or municipalities as possible, can tilt independently drawn maps.