Institutional Control of Redistricting and the Geography of Representation.

Edwards, Barry, Michael Crespin, Ryan D. Williamson, and Maxwell Palmer. 2017. “Institutional Control of Redistricting and the Geography of Representation.” Journal of Politics 79(2): 722–726.


A number of states have empowered independent redistricting commissions (IRCs) to redraw legislative districts each decade following the US Census. Reformers see IRCs, which have binding authority and political independence, as a solution to the practice of gerrymandering and have proposed using them throughout the United States. With less incentive to protect incumbents, do IRCs adhere more closely to traditional redistricting principles, such as drawing compact districts, maintaining continuity, and respecting political subdivisions? We examine a large sample of congressional and state legislative districts and find that, relative to legislatures, IRCs tend to draw more compact districts, split fewer political subdivisions, and may also do a better job of preserving the population cores of prior districts.