Power on the Line(s): Making Redistricting Work for Us

May 14, 2021

A comprehensive guide to redistricting from Advancing Justice | AAJC, NAACP — LDF, and MALDEF.

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On May 11, 2021, 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.

Appendix 2 – Redistricting In Your State

Appendix 2 (download above) includes information about the redistricting process in your state. This includes who is responsible for drawing your state’s legislative and congressional districts, how you can contact them, and any state-specific legal requirements they must follow, including deadlines and opportunities for public input. (Importantly, every state’s redistricting plans must comply with the U.S. Constitution and federal laws, including the Voting Rights Act.)