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People Powered Fair Maps FAQ

What is the goal of People Powered Fair MapsTM?  
  • The goal is to create fair and transparent, people-powered redistricting processes to eliminate partisan and racial gerrymandering in states nationwide.  

  • By building a national movement to advance redistricting nationally, the League is growing, wielding, and fostering a shared power paradigm for all voters, to end racial and partisan gerrymandering and ensure our political maps are created by the people – not those in power. 

  • This program is designed to put the power over the redistricting process back in the hands of the people.  

  • When people have direct avenues for influencing the drawing of districts in their communities, voters choose their representatives instead of representatives choosing their voters. 

Why now?   
  • In June 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that partisan gerrymandering is a political question because no fair test exists for courts to determine when partisan gerrymandering has gone too far.  

  • That means all federal courts will be hands-off even when redistricting intentionally decreases the voting power of voters based solely on their political party.    

  • This Supreme Court decision requires us to redouble our focus on our redistricting work at the state level.   

Why is this a signature program for LWV?  
  • We do not have to rely on the Supreme Court to solve partisan gerrymandering. There are other paths to creating Fair Maps nationwide – and the League of Women Voters is the best organization positioned to accomplish this.  

  • As an organization with active Leagues in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and in more than 700 communities around the country, the League of Women Voters is the best-positioned organization to fix redistricting and ensure a fair and transparent process for all voters around the country.  

  • As we approach our 100th anniversary and the centennial of women’s suffrage, we know that 100 years ago, women didn’t have a voice in government, and frankly some women were left out altogether. Today, we are working to ensure that, as voters, we choose our representatives, so that everyone is counted, heard, and represented in government.  

  • The League has been instrumental in most major redistricting reform efforts – from fighting for some of the first major reforms in states like Arizona, California, Florida, and Iowa, by creating independent commissions or binding redistricting criteria – to the recent passage of ballot initiatives in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Utah, and implementing and defending these reforms once passed. 

  • This work around redistricting also enables us to ground this program in social justice and racial equity and to illustrate our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as a real focus. This is important because we are not just talking about changing our culture, we are living out that commitment to ensure underrepresented populations have a real chance to elect their candidate of choice. 

How will LWV accomplish its goals?  
  • A national strategy cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ solution if it’s going to be effective. Instead, it is important to create an opportunity for every state to participate as we work to build power for voters nationwide.  

  • The League has a rich history and deep expertise in the area of redistricting, and we will build this program upon the strengths of our field.    

  • Because redistricting is a priority issue for the League and a major component of the Campaign for Making Democracy Work, most Leagues have been involved in redistricting in their states at some point, often for years. But that work looks different depending on each state.  

What investment is LWVUS making in this program?   
  • The initial investment of $500,000 from the Board with a $500,000 fundraising match functions as seed money to launch the first year of this program. This is a multi-million-dollar, multi-year effort, but a strong start puts LWVUS in the best position to secure funding for FY20 through FY22.  

  • We recognize that some states’ efforts will be multi-million-dollar, multi-year efforts in and of themselves, and so have planned support to meet state needs in bigger ways.   

  • Every participating state League will receive a grant through this program. The size of the grant will be determined based upon the needs and activities planned in each state.  

  • The heaviest investment will be in ballot initiative and constitutional option states for Year 1, and the investment will be different in Years 2 and 3.  

This program will require significant financial resources to execute, how will this program be funded? 
  • A program of this significance will require increased coordinated fundraising efforts at the national and state levels. Please consider supporting the program through philanthropy and inviting others to do so as well.  

  • LWVUS will lead the fundraising efforts by approaching multiple funders, including national foundations, individual donors, and investors for this program.   

  • LWVUS will provide training resources that will be available for states Leagues who also want to fundraise for their state-wide work.  

What are the elements of the program? 
  • The work will look different in each state, but the program is comprised of four major focus areas:  

1. Ballot Initiatives or Referendums 

2. State Constitutional Options  

3. State Legislative Fixes 

4. Federal Legislative Fixes 

  • Each state will engage in at least one of the four focus areas through advocacy, education, organizing and mobilization, partnerships, litigation, or protection/defensive action.  

What will the ballot initiative work be? 

This portion of the project will have two focus areas: lead campaigns for proactive redistricting reform and independent commissions; or implementation support for states that have previously passed initiatives. The goal centers on empowering voters in ballot initiative or referendum states to successfully pass a ballot measure, with LWV leading or influencing mass education campaigns to voters around the ballot language and the impact it will have in communities.  

LWV will be working on moving or protecting ballot initiatives in 21 states.  

What will the state constitutional work include? 

This portion of the project prioritizes states that have state constitutional provisions similar to or consistent with the “free and fair” clause of the Pennsylvania constitution. This work will prioritize any state facing threats, and our goal will be to support state Leagues in “holding the line” and protecting their fair redistricting provisions.  

Background. In 2017, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania challenged Pennsylvania’s congressional districts. Pennsylvania was the site of arguably one of the worst gerrymanders in the country. Notably, the political demographics in Pennsylvania are evenly split, but the 2011 delegation was much more lopsided. The plaintiffs successfully argued that the district lines constituted a partisan gerrymander that violated several provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution, including the “free and equal elections” clause. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed and struck down the congressional map, stating that the court’s own precedent had “established that any legislative scheme which has the effect of impermissibly diluting the potency of an individual’s vote for candidates for elective office relative to that of other voters will violate the guarantee of ‘free and equal’ elections afforded by Article I, Section 5.” This case established a new and inventive approach which LWV is using as a template to accomplish similar protection in other states. 

LWV will be work toward state constitutional fixes in 18 states. 

What will the state and federal legislative fixes include? 

This portion of the project will have a two-fold focus at the state level: first, LWV will look for opportunities to improve public input in the redistricting process; and second, LWV will look for opportunities to forward laws that increase transparency or mitigate laws that seek to remove transparency or alter existing criteria.  

At the federal level, LWV will work to restore the Voting Rights Act through the passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act and activate national momentum around putting similar protections in place in time for 2021 redistricting cycle. 

When does this program start?  
  • The national League of Women Voters invited state Leaders to sign onto the program in August 2019. 

  • The national League will host an all-member tele town hall on the topic on September 4, 2019. Information was sent to all active members in mid-August, and Leagues are encouraged to share and promote this important kick-off call with all their members. 

  • The program will be announced publicly on Thursday, September 5, 2019.

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