In states such as Virginia, Michigan and Ohio citizens managed to take redistricting out of partisan control, but new panels have had a shaky star

Greta Harris had enough.

The 16-person panel she was co-chairing was on the verge of a meltdown after months of trying to draw new boundaries for districts in the Virginia state legislature. The deadline for submitting maps had arrived but there was no plan, the Guardian reports.

The panel was tasked with redrawing political districts, a task that lawmakers across the US undertake every 10 years. In recent years, there’s been a growing alarm at how politicians have taken advantage of that process, distorting district lines to essentially choose the voters they represent and locking in their re-election and party control of certain seats. There’s now a broader recognition of how the practice, called gerrymandering, can essentially rig elections in favor of one party.

Ten years ago, Republicans launched an unprecedented effort to gerrymander to their advantage. In the 2010 election, they targeted under-the-radar races in state legislatures with the goal of taking control of those bodies to control the redistricting process. The effort, called Project REDMAP, was remarkably successful. Republicans used their newfound majorities in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to draw district lines that would lock Democrats out of power for years to come. In some places, Republicans weren’t subtle about what they were trying to do. In Michigan, A Republican aide bragged about cramming “Dem garbage” into certain districts.

This year, Harris’s panel, comprising eight lawmakers and eight citizens and evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, was supposed to help prevent that kind of distortion from happening.

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