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Redistricting Reform Legislation Would "Make Government More Accountable to the People Who Pay the Bill," Citizen Group Says

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(Washington, DC) -- Legislation to make Congressional redistricting fairer would not only strengthen the electoral process, it would also empower taxpaying voters, according to the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). Today the non-partisan citizen group joined with reform advocates on Capitol Hill to urge passage of a bill that would generally require independent state-level panels rather than legislatures to draw Congressional District boundaries.

"When entrenched incumbents are allowed to grow in office too long, many of them are more inclined to grow the federal budget," said NTU Vice President for Communications Pete Sepp. "By making Congressional elections more competitive, elected officials will be more accountable to the people who pay government's bills."

Earlier this year NTU endorsed H.R. 2642, the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act of 2005. In a letter to the bill's sponsor, John Tanner (D-TN), the group contended that H.R. 2642 "would go a long way toward creating more competitive races for the United States House of Representatives."

At first glance, this bill would not seem to have a direct impact on taxpayers, but NTU believes H.R. 2642 is key to restoring the citizen-legislator model our Founders envisioned. NTU's letter noted, "Unfortunately, although the process of drawing lines on a map to preserve political power has a long history in this country, the use of computers and other modern technologies has created a situation in which there are only 25 or so truly competitive races for 435 seats nationwide." The result, according to Sepp, is two-fold: "Hard-working taxpayers who are convinced their votes won't make a difference stay home, while those who profit from bigger government flock to the polls. Meanwhile, the political class that's propelled into office by this constituency cares even less about fiscal discipline and tax reform."

NTU has contended that the Supreme Court's jurisprudence should evolve by ruling political gerrymandering claims nonjusticiable. In the Court's history, it has failed to create a workable standard for discerning between "fair" and "unfair" partisan maps. For this reason, NTU urged the Court to allow the legislative branch to take up the matter on behalf of taxpayers and good government advocates.

"Congressman Tanner and his 47 House colleagues who are cosponsoring his legislation deserve a round of applause for proposing one major remedy for the anemic political lifeblood of the nation," Sepp concluded. "Taxpayers should welcome more competitive elections as their chance to take back the government that once listened to them instead of special interests."

The 350,000-member NTU was founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and more accountability from elected officials at all levels. Note: NTU's letter to Representative Tanner is available online at www.ntu.org.

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