On March 2-3, Common Cause, the Campaign Legal Center, and Duke University’s Center for Political Leadership, Innovation, and Service (POLIS) are co-hosting a daylong conference highlighting efforts around the country to end the undemocratic practice of drawing legislative districts for political advantage, also known as “gerrymandering.” Panel discussions will feature leaders of national and state advocacy campaigns to reform our broken redistricting system. Ahead of their publication in Election Law Journal, winners of Common Cause’s “Gerrymander Standard” writing competition will discuss their innovative ideas to create a judicial standard for measuring political gerrymanders.
Breakfast and lunch are included. Attendees are also welcome to join us for a reception following the conclusion of the program on the first day. The registration fee is $50 (space is limited).
Thursday, March 2, 2017 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday, March 3, 2017 8:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Day 1: March 2
8:00 am. Registration, Breakfast
9:00 am - 9:30 am. Welcome, Sanford Room 04 (basement)
• Welcome: Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause
• Keynote: Tom Ross, Duke University Terry Sanford Distinguished Fellow and University of North Carolina system president emeritus
9:40 am - 10:45 am. No Needle in a Haystack: Identifying different gerrymander standards, Rhodes Room.
The Supreme Court has struggled to articulate a manageable standard for measuring when a partisan or political gerrymander is unconstitutional. Common Cause hosts the second annual Gerrymander Standard writing competition to encourage academic scholarship to advance the conversation. The 2017 winners will be present their approaches.
• Dan Vicuna, Common Cause (moderator)
• Wendy Tam Cho and Yan Liu, University of Illinois
• Sam Wang, Princeton University
• Ted Arrington, UNC Charlotte
9:40 am - 10:45 am. Democracy Spring: How redistricting reform is blooming, Room 201.
Redistricting has traditionally been carried out by state legislatures, which has led to plans that reflect the existing power structure. Many states have created alternatives that remove the process of drawing lines from state legislatures, create mapping criteria, or set up other checks and balances. This panel will provide an overview of different state approaches, the political, legal and practical considerations for different reforms, and where reform efforts are happening.
• Kathay Feng, Common Cause (moderator)
• Marc Elias, Perkins Coie
• Anita Earls, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
• Derek Muller, Pepperdine University School of Law
10:55 - 12:00 pm. Panels switch rooms, repeat.
Democracy Spring: How redistricting reform is blooming, Rhodes Room.
No Needle in a Haystack: Identifying different gerrymander standards, Room 201.
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm. Lunch
1:00pm - 1:50pm. Seeding Success: Strategies for reaching new audiences, Rhodes Room.
In states with an initiative process, winning redistricting reform requires finding the right words and appealing to broad audiences. Whether it is addressing the concerns of minority communities, reaching out to business and labor, building cross-partisan alliances, or speaking to targeted voter groups, this panel will discuss lessons learned from past efforts to win redistricting reforms in various states.
• Jane Pinsky (moderator)
• Ra Joy, Change Illinois
• Ellen Friedin, FairDistricts Florida
• Jeannine English, former AARP national president and California president
• Robert Brundrett, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association
1:00pm - 1:50 pm. Promoting Cross-Pollination: The necessity and challenges of coalitions, Room 201.
In states where there has been some success in advancing redistricting reform, one of the key elements has been a commitment to building a broad coalition. This panel will discuss the challenges of creating policy that is fair to all, overcoming voter concerns, and protecting the reforms from efforts to dismantle them in the future.
• Chris Carson, League of Women Voters, (moderator)
• Erin Byrd, Blueprint North Carolina
• Julia Vaughn, Common Cause Indiana
• Brian Cannon, One Virginia 2021
2:00pm - 2:50pm. Panels switch rooms, repeat.
Promoting Cross-Pollination: The necessity and challenges of coalitions, Rhodes Room.
Seeding Success: Strategies for reaching new audiences, Room 201
3:00 pm - 3:50 pm. Reform From the Ground Up: Winning fair representation through local advocacy, Sanford Room 04 (basement).
Many successful movements for change begin at the local level. Local innovation can help incubate support from school board, city or county elected officials that grows into state support. This panel will explore redistricting reforms and advocacy that have started at the local level, what resources exist and how we can learn from those efforts.
• Greg Moore, NAACP Voter Fund (moderator)
• Nicolas Heidorn, California Common Cause
• Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund)
• Michael Schlink, Morrisville, North Carolina town councilor
4:00pm - 5:30pm. Panel: Constitutional Constraints to Political Gerrymandering, Sanford Room 04 (basement).
With the Supreme Court signaling once again in 2015 that there may still yet be a door for plaintiffs to pass through to bring partisan gerrymander suits, a number of suits raise these claims, with hopes that one will present the right key. Identifying this constitutional “key” may serve to rein in the most extreme of gerrymanders in the future. This panel of the leading lawyers from the North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Maryland suits will discuss their legal approach, evidence, and political circumstances.
• Guy-Uriel Charles, Duke University Law School (moderator)
• Emmet Bondurant, Bondurant Mixson, attorney in Common Cause v. Rucho (North Carolina)
• Ruth Greenwood, Campaign Legal Center, attorney in Whitford v. Gill (Wisconsin) and League of Women Voters v. Rucho (North Carolina)
• Michael Kimberly, Mayer Brown, attorney in Benisek v. Lamone (Maryland)
• Rick Pildes, New York University
Day 2: March 3
8:00am-9:00am. Breakfast, Welcome
9:00am-10:00am. Sowing the Seeds: Causes and consequences of efficiency gaps, Sanford Room 04 (basement).
While social scientists have developed several ways to measure the direction and the extent of gerrymandering, much less is known about its causes and consequences. This panel will explore factors that may cause plans to tilt in a particular party's favor, such as control of the redistricting process, political geography, and compliance with the Voting Rights Act. The panel will also evaluate the implications of gerrymandering for the quality of representation.
• Michael Li, Brennan Center (moderator)
• Nick Stephanopoulos, University of Chicago
• Chris Warshaw, MIT
• Chris Tausanovitch, UCLA
• Simon Jackman, University of Sydney and Stanford University
10:00am-11:00am. Apples & Oranges: Comparing partisan symmetry approaches, Sanford Room 04 (basement).
In LULAC v. Perry, the Supreme Court expressed openness to a gerrymandering standard based on the concept of partisan symmetry. However, there exist several measures of symmetry, including the efficiency gap, partisan bias, and the mean-median difference. In this panel, leading proponents of these metrics will discuss their respective advantages and drawbacks.
• Nick Stephanopoulos, University of Chicago (moderator)
• Eric McGhee, Public Policy Institute of California
• Michael McDonald, SUNY Binghamton
• Jowei Chen, University of Michigan
• Bernie Grofman, UC Irvine (inquisitor)
11:00am-12:00pm. Cultivating the garden: Nurturing public understanding of redistricting, Sanford Room 04 (basement).
Redistricting has always been a relatively obscure issue; one where the process and vocabulary can be hard to understand. Add to that legal theories and mathematical formulas. How do we talk about redistricting in a way that helps regular people, media, and policy makers understand how it works and why people should care about how redistricting is carried out?
• Bob Phillips, Common Cause NC (Moderator)
• Celinda Lake, Lake Research
• David Daley, author of “Ratf**ked”
12:15pm-1:30pm. Lunch and close, Sanford Room 04 (basement).