Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) has co-sponsored bipartisan legislation that would ease Congressional gridlock by letting the public participate in the redistricting process which takes place every ten years after the Census.
The bipartisan "Redistricting Transparency Act" (H.R. 4918) seeks to stop political gerrymandering, the drawing of Congressional district lines to protect incumbents. In many districts, incumbents only need to rally their base to secure victory, leaving the minority and independent voices out of the process.
"We need to shine a light on the redistricting process," said Cooper. "The public deserves to know how this really works."
The "Redistricting Transparency Act" was introduced by Reps. John Tanner (D-TN) and Mike Castle (R-DE) and has been endorsed by the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition. It requires open hearings and a public website in each state with data on Congressional districts so the public can watch and participate in the system by which district lines are drawn following the release of Census data.
"Both political parties conspire to produce congressional districts that are either heavily Democratic or Republican," Cooper said. "They draw maps that may look like snakes, salamanders, butterflies and octopuses to zone certain voters in, and out, of districts. This is not only unfair to independent voters, but all voters, because it creates a Congress of highly-partisan representatives when most Americans are centrists. It also means that the most important elections are the party primaries, not general elections. This is wrong and the Tanner bill will help stop it."
The 5th District is the most politically balanced in Tennessee at D+3.
The public process would be overseen by the state's redistricting entity, whether it is the state legislature or another body, such as an independent commission as outlined in the "Fairness and Independence in Redistricting (FAIR) Act" (HR 3025, Tanner/Castle), a comprehensive redistricting reform bill also endorsed by the Blue Dog Coalition in the 109th, 110th and 111th Congresses.
A map of Tennessee's congressional districts can be found here . A summary of the Redistricting Transparency Act and a fact sheet on gerrymandering provided by the Office of Congressman John Tanner are attached.