Major Developments in Redistricting

Date(s) of Conference:

October 14-15th, 2011


University at Buffalo Law School


In what some have called a “post-racial” America, conflicts about racial vote dilution and its remediation that dominated past redistricting cycles appear to have taken a back seat to broader questions about the legitimacy of the redistricting process. Against the background of high unemployment and significant regulatory failures, the public seems much less tolerant of legislators insulating themselves from voters by drawing safe districts for themselves. This appears to be true, not merely for congressional and statewide legislative redistricting, but also for redistricting by the far more numerous counties, cities, and other local jurisdictions. Across the country reform efforts are seeking transparency, greater openness to public participation, removal of redistricting from the hands of legislatures and governing bodies, and the design of more legitimate redistricting institutions and decision procedures. What these efforts amount to remains to be seen.

It is to explore and debate these trends that we bring nationally recognized scholars, experts, and practitioners together with advocates and participants in the current redistricting process at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy here at UB Law School.

The conference will also address process issues and redistricting at the local level. Redistricting at the county, city and other local levels, in particular, are rarely studied. As Bruce Cain and John Hopkins have noted, it is simply assumed that these issues are derivative of, or reflective of, issues that arise in congressional or state legislative redistricting.

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