How To Actually Drain The Swamp: Congressional Redistricting Through Independent Commissions

Sun, Andrew [Browse]
Senior thesis


Canes-Wrone, Brandice [Browse]
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs [Browse]
Princeton University. Program in American Studies [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
Gerrymandering has continuously been a political hot button issue in the United States. As Congress becomes more partisan and divided, voters have become more discontent with the status quo. While scholars remain unsure of the direct reason for this ongoing gridlock, a few have pointed to redistricting as a potential factor. And as more and more citizens become frustrated with the ability for state governments to draw their own lines, done so to gain a partisan advantage and protect incumbents, some have taken the initiative to introduce reform measures to help to combat this issue. Through independent redistricting commissions, the power of drawing congressional lines is handed from the state government over to a select group of citizens, comprised mostly of members of the two major parties, as well as independents (or decline to states). This thesis explores the independent redistricting commission model in two states, California and Arizona. From the interviews I conducted, what was salient was that while the independent redistricting commission model might not be perfect in nature, as litigation and controversies still arise, it is a workable method to employ to help mitigate the bias that often comes with redistricting. By having districts drawn more fairly and competitively, and with more public input, redistricting through these commissions can help to alleviate the rampant partisanship at the state government level, and conversely, on the national stage.

Supplementary Information