As they do every ten years, this year state legislatures across the country are redrawing legislative district lines to reflect population shifts and ensure equal representation for each district. In 2010, California voters passed a proposition granting the California Citizens Redistricting Commission control over the drawing of congressional lines. This Symposium Essay examines the potential for redistricting by an independent group of citizens such as the Citizens Redistricting Commission. First, it explores the nature of the redistricting process, a process often explained as fundamentally political, and argues, instead, that the process is both political and pre-political. This Essay then examines incumbent legislators’ roles in the redistricting process in light of this insight, and challenges the presumption that incumbents are more accountable to members of their districts because of redistricting. Finally, this Essay reviews various alternatives to incumbent control of the redistricting process, and both the positive and negative potential of citizen redistricting.

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