“Public Hearings and Congressional Redistricting: Evidence from the Western United States 2011–2012”

Peter Miller and Bernie Grofman have written this article for ELJ. Here is the abstract:

We test theories about the effects of public input into redistricting, with evidence taken from remarks made in person at public hearings. One model, the cynical model, features legislators acting in their own interest and carries an expectation that public input is more or less a sham that line drawers will ignore, holding hearings only to give the appearance of responsiveness. A variant of this cynical model suggests that political parties and candidates will seek to manipulate the public input process by making partisan suggestions disguised as citizen input. An idealist vision, on the other hand, suggests input by the public can provide important information to line drawers about citizen preferences which can and will get integrated into plans. A further complication is who is drawing the lines. We might expect that redistricting commissions would be more responsive to public input than that of legislators, since the former has less of a partisan motivation. We analyze a sample of 937 suggestions proffered in person by individuals, public officials, and group representatives at 22 public comment hearings in nine states. We find the public does contribute a large number of “feasibly mappable” suggestions that are incorporated into plans, but only suggestions addressing a small geographical area are likely to be adopted. Finally, we find little difference in the degree to which different types of redistricting authorities incorporate suggestions made at hearings into their plans.

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