Process Failure and Transparency Reform in Local Redistricting
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Redistricting reform during this cycle has pushed for greater transparency, more public participation, the removal of redistricting from the hands of legislatures, and the design of more legitimate institutions and decision procedures. Reform efforts are generally focused on statewide and congressional redistricting, but mostly ignore thousands of local redistrictings across the country. Local redistricting often takes place under the radar, varies between jurisdictions, is subject to different institutional arrangements and political dynamics, and is more vulnerable to process failure. This article advances a policy proposal to reform local redistricting that weds aspects of several contemporary governance approaches – including so-called “New Institutionalism” and “Third-Generation Transparency” methods. It argues that states should establish centralized statewide redistricting clearinghouses for local redistricting (RDCs). The proposal envisions adapting new technologies to address process failures, but leaving existing local institutional arrangements in place.