Designing Redistricting Institutions

19 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2006

See all articles by Adam B. Cox

Adam B. Cox

New York University School of Law

Date Written: June 2006


Recent movements to reform redistricting in the United States have focused almost exclusively on the possibility of replacing state legislatures with nonpartisan or bipartisan commissions. The nearly exclusive focus on who draws districts overlooks at least two other ways to reform redistricting: by altering the decision rules that constrain legislatures when they redistrict; or by changing the institutional structures available to review legislatures' initial decisions. This Article sketches the broader suite of options and introduces a novel decision-rule constraint - deferred redistricting implementation. The deferred implementation rule would leave legislatures with authority to craft redistricting plans after each census, but the rule would defer the implementation of those plans for a few election cycles. Deferred implementation creates a partial temporal veil of ignorance that would curtail egregious partisan gerrymanders. In addition, it would improve the incentives of legislators in charge of drawing district lines, making them less interested in using the redistricting process to pursue their political self interest.

Suggested Citation

Cox, Adam B., Designing Redistricting Institutions (June 2006). U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 131; U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 301. Available at SSRN: or

Adam B. Cox (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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