RI Republicans, watchdog group call for citizens redistricting commission


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Republican leaders and watchdog group Common Cause Rhode Island are calling for an independent citizens redistricting commission to map out legislative districts.

As it stands, legislators have the final say on how their legislative districts will be mapped.

“We think there is a fundamental conflict of interest whenever the legislature draws their own districts,” Common Cause RI
Executive Director John Marion.

Following Governor Gina Raimondo’s State of the State address, House Minority Leader Blake Filippi said in his response that gerrymandering “is done to the extreme” in Rhode Island.”

“We fully support Common Cause’s initiative for a citizen’s commission to draw legislative districts, not legislators, which will vindicate our most fundamental right to vote in this Republic,” Filippi said in his speech.

Marion says approximately a dozen states have established a citizens redistricting commission.

Legislative districts are remapped every ten years and for Rhode Island, that will be in 2021. Marion is working with legislators to introduce a bill to establish the independent commission this year but believes it may be difficult to get state leadership on board.

“Essentially you are asking the legislature to give up its own power to draw the maps,” Marion said.

According to Marion, there have been multiple gerrymandering cases in Rhode Island within the last decade.

Rhode Island currently has an advisory commission to help with redistricting but legislators have the final say.

House Democratic leadership tells Eyewitness News they will reserve comment until the bill is introduced.

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