League of Women Voters Blasts Secretive Redistricting Process

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State lawmakers have been meeting all day over their redistricting maps, with one sweaty incumbent after another desperately trying to cut deals to save their jobs. It’s all happening secretly in some backroom, of course, just as this entire cutthroat process has been hidden from public view.

Rumor has it that Republicans have been willing to make some accommodations—notably, they supposedly are redrawing Nashville Rep. Sherry Jones into a new district so she doesn’t have to quit or run against Rep. Mike Stewart. In return, Democrats have agreed not to gum up the works, enabling Republicans to ram their maps through the legislature this week to strengthen their grip on power in Tennessee. The House is going into session this afternoon, and the Senate is acting tomorrow.

Whenever lawmakers have appeared publicly this week, they have crowed over their amazingly transparent redistricting process. “That’s bullshit,” says one public-interest lobbyist who just appeared in Pith’s cubicle to complain and to state the obvious. In redistricting, what’s best for constituents is beside the point. That things were no different under Democratic rule shouldn't make anyone feel any better. In a statement, the League of Women Voters agrees:

The League works to promote transparent and accountable redistricting processes and to end hyper-partisan practices that don't benefit constituents. In our view, the Tennessee redistricting process that has been in the news lately certainly lacks transparency and accountability. We do not have a position on where to draw district lines nor do we necessarily believe this process is worse than previous legislative efforts. We do believe, however, that the secret discussions which lead to this "take it or leave it plan" do not serve the public interest. Tennessee can do better.

Update: If you'd like to comment as a concerned citizen about the redistricting maps, too bad. The so-called House Redistricting Comment Line (741-3743) is out of order. Here's the message you hear when you call: "Due to telephone facility trouble, your call could not be completed at this time. Please try again later." Whoops! Too late now. The House just passed the House plan by a vote of 67-25.

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