When states kill the gerrymander: The example of Iowa
I was living in Iowa when it put in place a process to end gerrymandering, and I felt very pround of my state for doing it—and without a referendum or proposition. Instead, the state legislature did what state legislatures are supposed to do: it enacted a fair law. Tracy Jan of the Boston Globe has a good article from December 2013 that describes how (and why) Iowa did it:
In a locked windowless chamber across the street from the Iowa State House, three bureaucrats sequester themselves for 45 days every decade after census data is released. Their top-secret task: the “redistricting” of the state’s legislative and congressional boundaries.
But here, unlike in most other states, every care is taken to ensure the process is not political.
The mapmakers are not allowed to consider previous election results, voter registration, or even the addresses of incumbent members of Congress. No politician — not the governor, the House speaker, or Senate majority leader — is allowed to weigh in, or get a sneak preview.
Instead of drawing lines that favor a single political party, the Iowa mapmakers abide by nonpartisan metrics that all sides agree are fair — a seemingly revolutionary concept in the high-stakes decennial rite of redistricting.