Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC released a comprehensive guide to redistricting, aimed at empowering Black, Latino, and Asian American communities, as well as other marginalized communities, to be actively engaged participants in one of the most important, once-a-decade events of American democracy.
The coalition of civil rights organizations have published their collaborative guide, “Power on the Line(s): Making Redistricting Work for Us,” ahead of the expected U.S. Census Bureau’s release of official redistricting data later this year that will enable communities to engage in the process of redrawing lines for congressional, state, and local bodies. During the redistricting process, political lines must be redrawn so that the population in each district is roughly equal in size and maps do not dilute the voting power of communities of color. The maps drawn in the upcoming redistricting cycle will determine the allocation of political power and representation at every level of government across the nation for at least the next 10 years.
The coalition’s guide provides essential information about the redistricting process, such as examples of recent efforts to dilute the voting power of communities of color. It also details the legal protections that remain available to protect against manipulative redistricting schemes, particularly after the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder – which removed a safeguard against racially discriminatory redistricting plans in states and jurisdictions with a record of such practices. The guide is bolstered by clear, specific, and actionable steps that members of Latino, Black, and Asian American communities can take to protect against unfair and discriminatory redistricting plans that would serve to diminish their right to equal representation in government and the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.
“The growing power in populations of communities of color, and the efforts to stifle this power, underscore the critical need for people of color to serve as a necessary checkpoint on unfair and discriminatory redistricting plans,” said Leah Aden, Deputy Director Litigation at LDF. “The lines we draw give Black communities access to and allow us to elect representatives that can work to serve our policy interests in justice, jobs, high quality education, and healthy communities. We urge people to use this guide as a tool to learn about the process, engage in it, and leave no power outside of the lines.”
“Now more than ever, communities of color must be vigilant in the redistricting process,” said Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation at MALDEF. “This guide offers practical information to equip advocates to defend their voting rights in local, state and federal redistricting.”
“The power that communities of color can wield in the political process is on the line for the next decade,” said Terry Ao Minnis, Advancing Justice – AAJC’s Senior Director of Census and Voting Programs. “Our communities must advocate for redistricting plans that represent us and this guide outlines what is needed to do it
The guide also empowers a broad set of audiences — including community members, and policy-makers — to make their voices heard in the redistricting process including by participating in public redistricting hearings, holding legislators accountable in the redistricting process, and notifying civil rights organizations like LDF, MALDEF, and Advancing Justice | AAJC if there becomes a need to challenge discriminatory redistricting in court.
Download the full guide here.