With census coming in 2020, the midterm election impact will span more than a decade

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Midterm elections are 18 days away and they could have a bigger impact than many realize. A vote on one Tuesday in November will have lingering effects for more than a decade.

“(Redistricting is) by far the most important thing going on,” said Gary Nordlinger, a professor at The George Washington University School of Political Management.

There are 36 states with gubernatorial races this year. Most of those elected leaders will have the power to approve or reject how political maps are drawn at the state and federal levels. Nordlinger says when the next census is carried out in 2020, these maps will be under scrutiny nationwide, which puts some recently-elected heads of state in the spotlight.

“That, in turn, will impact public policy,” said Nordlinger.

The process of redistricting can be controversial and politically charged. The thinking goes that state lawmakers and governors draw districts in ways that make it easier to win future races. Opponents of the practice, referred to as gerrymandering, say lawmakers are picking voters when it should be the other way around.

Jared Leopold from the Democratic Governors Association says with a large number of currently GOP-dominated state legislatures across the country, maps are unfair. He is looking for that to change after this election.

“It gets really difficult to have your voice heard when you’ve got a district that doesn’t represent communities as they are on the map,” said Leopold.

Jon Thompson from the Republican Governors Association says if Democrats gain power in these states, they will swing the pendulum back in their favor.

“There are multiple states where Democrats have gerrymandered maps. The Republicans have said if I get elected here we’re going to have more fair maps,” said Thompson.

Not all states give their legislatures and governors power over redistricting. Some have independent groups decide how lines are drawn.