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Sunday, January 27, 2013 - 10:00pm

Barrow Pushes Nonpartisan Redistricting

Georgia Congressman John Barrow has introduced legislation that would create independent commissions to oversee the redistricting process in the US House.

The Augusta Democrat has survived two Republican-led changes to his East Georgia 12th Congressional District.

Barrow first ran from Athens in 2004 then two years later had to move to Savannah and last year Augusta as GOP state lawmakers squeezed Democrats out of his constituency.

Barrow says partisan redistricting makes Congress less able to do its job because it silences moderates.

But political analyst Robert Eisinger of the Savannah College of Art and Design School of Liberal Arts says you can't take politics out of politics.

"It's not clear cut that if you create independent commissions and if you change voting schemes to open primaries, 'Top Two' or a whole bunch of other voting mechanisms, you yield either moderation, centrism or, for that matter, competition," Eisinger says. "It is true that many of these states with independent commissions -- Iowa comes to mind -- have created opportunities for more competitive districts. But it's not fair to say that if they're independent, automatically, competitive districts are created."

Eisinger says commissions could be manipulated in the appointment process.

So far, states -- not members of Congress -- have led the drive to nonpartisan redistricting.