Congressman Tanner's Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act (H.R. 2642)
The Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act, introduced by Representative John Tanner, would make important improvements to our congressional elections. The Act would require state legislatures to appoint independent commissions that would be responsible for redrawing district boundaries. These commissions would draw district boundaries in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, and could not draw lines based on partisanship alone. As a result, the redistricting process would become independent of partisan manipulation. In addition, the Act would only allow redistricting to occur once every ten years.

The United States Constitution requires congressional seats to be reapportioned among the states after each decennial census in order to ensure compliance with the one-person one-vote criteria, the federal Voting Rights Act, and traditional redistricting principles such as compact and contiguous districts. Redistricting, however, has often turned into a means to further political goals as boundaries have consistently been drawn that tend to protect incumbents and reduce competition. 

Generally, state legislators and governors re-draw the boundaries of the US House districts, but the process varies among states. In twelve states, the legislature does not have final authority to redistrict. Alaska, Idaho and Arizona recently became part of these twelve states as they used a redistricting commission for the first time in 2000. Only six states – Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, and Washington – give authority for congressional line drawing to a commission. Iowa uses an independent commission to develop plans which are later approved by the legislature. The Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act would bring uniformity to the way in which districts are redrawn. Clearly some states have implemented fairer processes, while other states continue to use redistricting to solidify the governing party's grasp on power.  The way in which legislative lines are drawn has a major impact on who wins and who loses. As a result, it is only logical that such authority by delegated to independent commissions.
In 2001-2002, nearly every political jurisdiction in the nation adjusted its legislative district lines based on new information provided by the U.S. Census. In addition, Texas re-adjusted its districts in 2003. The Tanner bill could end such blatant partisan manipulation of the redistricting process by prohibiting mid-decade redistricting.

Read the bill summary and status of H.R. 2642 on Thomas

News on the Tanner Bill
March 1st 2006
Tanner redistricting bill gains Senate sponsor
The Hill

Senator Tim Johnson introduced a companion bill to Rep. John Tanner's federal redistricting reform legislation. The identical bills, supported by FairVote, would set up state commissions to handle redistricting only once a decade.

October 27th 2005
To Tame Polarization Of Politics, Fix Our Redistricting System
Roll Call

October 15th 2005
Wamp fresh leadership for sagging Republicans
The Tennessean

According to FairVote's Ryan O'Donnell, the Republican party should seize the opportunity to embrace electoral reforms, and take the lead on ending gerrymandering.

August 29th 2005
Purple fingers in California
The Oakland Tribune

California call to arms against crooked gerrymandering

August 24th 2005
Defeating Pa. Incumbents Won't Be Easy
Chambersburg Public Opinion

FairVote is cited in this editorial that reveals how gerrymandering has stifled competitiveness of elections.

August 18th 2005
Take politics out of redistricting, say Tennessee congressmen
The Tennessean

Local newspaper documents John Tanner's (D-TN) redestricting bill

August 17th 2005
Lawmakers push for more competitive elections
The Olympian

Last year's elections were least competitive in history, references both the Tanner bill on redistricting and FairVote research

August 16th 2005
Push on to make race of elections
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The problem of House incumbent winnings, based on FairVote research

July 23rd 2005
Time to put an end to the gerrymander
San Antonio-Express News

Rep. John Tanner's Act is lauded as a solution to gerrymandering, specifically in Texas.

July 21st 2005
Reformers back bill on redistricting
Roll Call

Tanner's Redistricting bill gains support, slowly but surely.