If Only…

There are so many reasons to vote straight Blue this November: to keep a dangerously insane man out of the Oval Office, to remove the “God Squad” from the House and Senate, to protect democracy and Separation of Church and State…and especially,  to send an emphatic message that women will not meekly return to second-class citizenship.

You can undoubtedly come up with other reasons as well. But a bill just filed by the Democrats in the U.S. Senate may be the most important, because its passage would go a very long way to accomplishing several of those goals–and it won’t pass unless Democrats sweep the November election.

Per The Democracy Docket:

Earlier this month, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) introduced the Redistricting Reform Act of 2024, legislation that would make a slew of impactful changes to the congressional redistricting process nationwide.

The bill would set spell out comprehensive criteria for congressional redistricting including:

  • Banning partisan gerrymandering by prohibiting drawing maps that favor or disfavor any political party,
  • Ensuring compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965,
  • Providing an explicit right for private citizens to file legal challenges under this law,
  • Requiring that districts be drawn to represent communities of interest and neighborhoods to the extent possible,
  • Barring people, legislatures and states from asserting legislative privilege over lawsuits brought under the act,
  • Setting clear deadlines for when maps must be enacted and
  • Mandating that redistricting plans are subject to public comment in an open and transparent manner

Gerrymandering is the root of America’s current dysfunctions. When lawmakers can choose their voters rather than the other way around, we end up being ruled by a minority.

Gerrymandering–aka partisan redistricting–does more than skew election results. A lot more. And much of it goes unrecognized. Here in Indiana, for example, where partisan redistricting has carved up metropolitan areas and subordinated them to rural ones, gerrymandering has given us distribution formulas favoring rural areas over cities when divvying up dollars for roads and schools, among other inequities.

Even before the Dobbs decision, The Guardian connected gerrymandering to passage of radical abortion laws.

Georgia’s legislature responded to the state’s closely divided political climate not with thoughtful compromise but by passing one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the United States.

An April poll by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that 70% of Georgians support the landmark Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion. The new state ban is opposed by 48% of Georgians and supported by only 43%. So why would the legislature enact such an extreme measure?

For that matter, why would Ohio, Alabama, Missouri and other states establish similar “fetal heartbeat” laws that are far more restrictive than their constituents support?

One important answer is gerrymandering: redistricting voting districts to give the party in power an edge – making it almost impossible for the other side to win a majority of seats, even with a majority of votes. Sophisticated geo-mapping software and voluminous voter data turned this ancient art into a hi-tech science when the US redistricted after the 2010 census.

Partisan redistricting is undemocratic no matter which party is doing it, but give credit where it’s due: the GOP has been far more adept at gerrymandering than the Democrats (probably because Republicans recognize that they are increasingly a minority party and must cheat in order to win). As the Guardian reported, gerrymandering has allowed the GOP to control state legislatures with supermajorities even when voters prefer Democratic candidates by hundreds of thousands of votes.

Gerrymandering nullifies elections and insulates lawmakers from democratic accountability.

Despite lacking any mandate for an extreme agenda in a closely divided nation, Republican lawmakers have pushed through new voting restrictions, anti-labor laws, the emergency manager bill that led to poisoned water in Flint, Michigan, and now, these strict abortion bans. Electorally, there’s little that Democrats can do to stop it.

In Ohio, the article pointed to “zero evidence” that voters held extreme opinions on abortion, and noted that polls showed more voters opposed to that state’s “heartbeat” bill than supportive of it. A University of Chicago study showed that barely half the total vote in Ohio gave Republicans more than 63% of the seats– simply because the maps were “surgically designed” to ensure that few seats would be competitive.

I have frequently posted about the multiple negative consequences of gerrymandering: among other things, it empowers extremists (as “real” elections move to the primaries) and suppresses the vote.

In non-referendum states like Indiana, the only way to get rid of gerrymandering would be via a U.S. Supreme Court decision or a federal law. The Court has repeatedly declined to act, so we need a Democratic win in November big enough to ensure passage of the Redistricting Reform Act.

That would go a long way toward protecting democracy–and women.


  1. Yes, as important as making sure the Orange Grifter never sets foot in the White House again, it is equally important that Congress is wiped clean of the MAGA fascists once and for all.

  2. In our districts in East Central Indiana, the Republicans don’t even show up to voter forums or debates. They don’t have to because of gerrymandering. As a result, we have extremely low voter turnout.

    Gerrymandering has crippled democracy in the US. Our leaders talk about saving democracy all the time, but it’s already down the toilet. Flipping Indiana’s seats to Democrats probably has an extremely low possibility. The odds are stacked against that happening.

    It is the same in federal elections. They can work for the oligarchy without repercussions. As Sheila pointed out with the polls, their laws and policies go against the people’s will, and the politicians don’t care.

  3. The Democrat party from more than one source has done better thru gerrymandering than Republicans, are we sure we want this? Is it thought thru?

    In Afghanistan women are being murdered and enslaved again.

    The black community is now starting to walk away from the Democrat party as they are hurting their chances for employment snd representation of government dollars. So will anti-gerry mandering bills help?

  4. John S, Getting rid of gerrymandering would stop both parties from doing this. Are you saying it’s good to lock in the “good guys” too? Same problems creep into the system.

  5. I cannot imagine DINOs Manchin or Sinema voting in favor of this redistricting act. Sorry to be such a Debbie-downer this morning.

  6. John S –

    Can you please cite your ‘sources’ of your info?
    Democrats have not been better at gerrymandering than Republicans. They may have been better at it before the 2010 Census, but I don’t know if that is even true. What I do know to be true is that the republican party hired some computer algorithm guru (from SC, maybe?) to use the 2010 census data to create voter algorithms that enabled many states to flip to republican dominance or to ensure current red states to keep their majority in the state legislatures.

    Re your comment about the black community walking away from the D party – please also cite your sources for that comment.

  7. To justify any anti-gerrymandering law, all one has to do is look at what Ohio did to allow a creature like Jim Jordan to become a U.S. Congressman. His district boundaries look like really bad op-art.

    But, ultimately, it’s about the voters. If districts didn’t have so many Republican voters and Democrats could actually find and promote decent candidates at the down-ballot, then maybe gerrymandering would become irrelevant. BTW, how do political parties know how to draw partisan district lines? Is that what they do while wasting donor money?

    As Todd so often says, our politics and the corrupt systems that operate them are in need of a major overhaul. But to do that, we have to have voting rates in the 80+% rate so that voices of the people can actually be heard over the cacophony of gerrymandering.

  8. There are rational ways to redistrict, but humans are the problem. By nature, we take care of ourselves first. In redistricting, taking care of me means that I ensure my own re-election first, my own power second, then whatever is left gets divided equally. It makes sense to have a computer do the job using a program that works to form ideal districts. We desperately need that Federal legislation.

  9. china, n korea, russia, india, congo, red sea area. these tied together and watching us stumble,willing to fail for a authotitarian world to watch. thier focus is greed…

  10. John S. The US, since WWII, has campaigned worldwide to make the principles of liberal democracy, as stated in our Constitution, universal. So much peace and prosperity and good decision-making would result.

    In several countries anti-democratic aristocrats powered by religion stand to lose too much to allow us/US to be successful .

    That’s world history over my 81 years here, paying attention.

  11. As Destiny Wells said in an email today – Indiana is a purple state with a voter turnout problem. Obama won IN by motivating people to vote. GOTV! As a former IN resident now living in MI, I watched how MI went from a Republican-dominated state gov’t to a Dem state gov’t. The margins are always small and in jeopardy but it’s possible if people vote (and have a viable candidate to support). Please vote!

  12. Gerrymandering and democracy are like oil and water, i.e., they don’t and can’t mix over either the short or long term, but we are nevertheless seeing these attempts to destroy majority rule, the undergirding principle of democracy since the day of the Greek agoras, and while there may be enough blame to go around, I think it is time we all honor such principle over any party seeking electoral advantage via substitution of political geography for the will of the majority.

    I welcome the bill Sheila discusses today but wish it could be applicable to state elections as well. However, I won’t live long enough to see the Hoosier super majority vote to adopt a scaled down version of such federal legislation (assuming it becomes law), and why? Because then Republicans would not have a super majority and Indiana could become a purple if not blue state.

    How to make that happen? Somehow decisively win this fall’s election irrespective of such electoral blight, end gerrymandering as we know it, and leaving such political boundaries with statutory guidelines to draw by an independent commission, using this bill as a guideline whether it becomes law or not.

  13. No way in H – pick your H – this can/will ever pass. There is likely NO redistricting ever run by a party that was fair. PARTIES are the problem.

  14. Marcia: Destiny is absolutely correct. We already live in a purple or even blue state here in Indiana but for gerrymandering. Obama proved that. His super organization did the trick. Turnout is the ultimate answer in any election. Our task? Super organize while working to end gerrymandering.

    My daughter is fundraising for Destiny, an excellent candidate, and I am one of her funders. She deserves our contributions and support, as do our excellent candidates for Governor and Senator, for whom my daughter is also a fundraiser and I am also a funder. Organization and messaging take money, so consider donations to these great candidates.

  15. Here’s A bit of stark reality in our primary election, Bernie Sanders won the popular vote but our elect doors at the convention cast Indiana for Hillary. How was that representing the people’s choice?

  16. It all comes down to framing.

    The Taliban are at the gates and about to overrun the country. I refer you to Justice Alito and associates who have taken away Roe and are threatening to take away LGBTQ+ rights as well. I refer you to Governor Sanctimonius who has corrupted education in Florida. I refer you to the Indiana Legislature that is threatening to do the same in Indiana with SB 202. I refer you to Jim Banks, Mike Braun, and Todd Rokita who are promoting all this BS. I refer you to the Chief Justice in Alabama who thinks an in vitro embroyo is a person. I refer you to the extremist Joe Posoewitz who stood before the CPAC meeting this week holding a cross and stated that they were going to end American democracy.

    These people are broadly distributed across the country and politically well connected, if not in out right power. I pray that they are out of touch with the American majority, but unless the American majority wakes up and go to the polls in both the primaries and general elections these extremists are going to finish the job of taking our country away from us. They are organized and mean what they are saying.

    We absolutely have to get equally organized and get everybody to hear what these people are saying. The Dobbs decision was not an accident. It happened because the majority was not listening to what was being said. The Ohio Constitutional Amendment was what happens when everybody wakes up. Ohio was fortunate that they had an option for a citizen initiative. We don’t have that in Indiana, so we have to stop the extremists before they take total power and crush us.

  17. I left out MAGA Mike Johnson who has said that he thinks God has anointed him as Speaker of the House to lead us out of iniquity. I am reminded of David Koresh and James Jones who also thought they were anointed by God.

    Beware people who think they have been anointed by God. They are obviously delusional!

    I also left out the Golden Rule which is supposed to be foundational to Christian theology. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. ” Since they are clearly trying to take away our rights, they are clearly stating that they want us to take away their rights.

  18. I follow all the points in the proposed bill except this one:

    Barring people, legislatures and states from asserting legislative privilege over lawsuits brought under the act,

    What is “legislative privilege” and what are the implications of barring it?

    @Vernon, you say ” If districts didn’t have so many Republican voters…” well, that’s exactly what Republican gerrymanders are designed to accomplish.

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