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March 9, 2010; OMB Watch | We’ve come a long way since the days of machine politics when redrawing electoral districts was a secretive act that rewarded the party in power. Still, the process is far from perfect. So to help even the odds, and to increase the chances that districts are properly drawn, a number of nonprofits are playing a lead role in what OMB Watch describes as “advocating for a process that is independent, nonpartisan, and fair while also ensuring that their constituencies’ interests are represented.”

By serving in an advisory capacity and sharing information via their Web sites, organizations such as Americans for Redistricting Reform, Campaign Legal Center,, and even the League of Women Voters, are helping keep redistricting efforts both fair and in the public eye. Even though these groups have no agenda other than ensuring a fair process, not all politicians enjoy sharing power with them.

During a recent forum in New York State, held by the League of Women Voters, New York State Assemblyman Bill Parment acknowledged that people might prefer independent redistricting commissions because the legislature’s interest in the outcome might make them “suspect.” But he said that he believes that the legislature is better equipped to oversee redistricting.

His reasoning: “People who know the most about their communities and have been chosen by their communities to represent them are the same ones that are best positioned to create a plan for redistricting that reflects community interests and concerns. If we didn’t fight for our communities in redistricting, we would be held in very low esteem, I think, by the public.”

Or maybe voted out for that kind of attitude.—Bruce Trachtenberg