The 2020 Redistricting Reform Race To The Ballot Summit
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined leaders of anti-gerrymandering campaigns from six states to share updates and strategies during a virtual summit on Tuesday, June 23. The conference was convened by The People’s executive director Katie Fahey, who led a nonpartisan, grassroots effort in Michigan that resulted in an amendment to the state’s constitution in 2018 creating an independent citizens redistricting commission.
Since that time, five states have passed some type of redistricting reform, with another nine taking on the issue in 2020. The message is clear: Voters are finished with the self-serving status quo and ready for a change – and a say – in the way district lines are drawn. “I have long believed that the end of gerrymandering is going to come from the voters themselves – and now is the time for the voters of Oregon, Arkansas, North Dakota, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Virgina to terminate gerrymandering this November.”, said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a fierce supporter and proponent of redistricting reform dating back to his time as Governor of California.
Like so many aspects of life as we know it, COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders across the country have created unforeseen barriers and complications to the work of democracy reform. Many campaigns struggle to meet signature and timing deadlines in normal circumstances, let alone amidst a global pandemic. These campaigns shared some of their struggles: from Oklahoma’s state of emergency that forbids signature gathering, to Oregonian organizers having to navigate the heavy burden of asking voters to print, sign, and mail in their own petitions.
One thing is clear, though: That voter appetite for change is still strong and, regardless of party, voters want politicians and the redistricting process to be accountable to them. Each campaign mentioned the strong dedication and creativity they’ve witnessed from their volunteers who are fighting against party politics and a pandemic to make it onto the ballot.
Says Fahey, “What we saw in Michigan two years ago was that change is possible when regular Americans set aside their differences and come together to make sure our democracy is working for the people. We want to apply that to the larger movement, and bring together people from all over the country who are working to end gerrymandering.”
Representatives from each campaign spoke to the urgency and importance of this moment:
Oregon: “We’re just nine days out from the signature deadline to get on the November 2020 ballot. This is a make or break moment for Oregonians to enact a fair and transparent process in time for 2021 redistricting.” Kate Titus, Executive Director, Common Cause OR, People Not Politicians Oregon
Arkansas: “The pandemic has added an extra layer of complication to the process – but we strongly believe in the need to end gerrymandering, and we know that Arkansans are with us and can turn out the 89,151 total signatures needed to get us to the ballot.” Bonnie Miller, President, League of Women Voters Washington County, Arkansas Voters First
North Dakota: “Bringing together campaigns from around the country highlighted the larger effort to put voters first, especially in North Dakota where we want to put power back into the hands of the state’s voters Carol Sawicki, Chair, North Dakota Voters First
Nevada: “It’s about ensuring that voters get the opportunity to have their voices heard when it comes to the way our district lines are drawn. We can’t wait another 10 years for Nevada to get it right!” Sondra Cosgrove, President, League of Women Voters of NV, Fair Maps Nevada
Oklahoma: “Our government is failing us. Our legislators say they’re going to fix things, and yet, every year nothing changes. We need to end gerrymandering, and we have a fair, open, and transparent plan to do it.” Andy Moore, Executive Director, Let’s Fix This OK, People Not Politicians Oklahoma
Virginia: “With the momentum from redistricting victories in the last election cycle, 2020 is poised to see a wave of reform that sends a clear message that voters demand accountable representation in an unrigged system.” Brian Cannon, Executive Director, OneVirginia2021