Redistricting

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Redistricting is the process of drawing electoral district boundaries in the United States. A congressional act passed in 1967 requires that representatives be elected from single-member districts, except when a state has a single representative, in which case one state-wide at-large election be held. [1]

An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, or electorate, is a territorial subdivision for electing members to a legislative body. Generally, only voters (constituents) who reside within the district are permitted to vote in an election held there. From a single district, a single member or multiple members might be chosen. Members might be chosen by a first-past-the-post system or a proportional representative system, or another voting method entirely. Members might be chosen through a direct election under universal suffrage, an indirect election, or another form of suffrage.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

A single-member district or single-member constituency is an electoral district that returns one officeholder to a body with multiple members such as a legislature. This is also sometimes called single-winner voting or winner takes all. The alternative are multi-member districts, or the election of a body by the whole electorate voting as one constituency.

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Legislative representatives

Seven states have only a single representative in the United States House of Representatives for the entire state, because of their low populations. These are Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. These states do not need redistricting for the House and elect members on a state-wide at-large basis.

United States House of Representatives lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they compose the legislature of the United States.

Alaska State of the United States of America

Alaska is a U.S. state in the northwest extremity of the United States West Coast, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon border the state to the east and southeast. Its most extreme western part is Attu Island, and it has a maritime border with Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—southern parts of the Arctic Ocean. The Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest. It is the largest U.S. state by area and the seventh largest subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the 3rd least populous and the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States; nevertheless, it is by far the most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel in North America: its population—estimated at 738,432 by the United States Census Bureau in 2015— is more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska's economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, and oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. Military bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy.

Delaware State of the United States of America

Delaware is one of the 50 states of the United States, in the South-Atlantic or Southern region. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, north by Pennsylvania, and east by New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean. The state takes its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and Virginia's first colonial governor.

In 25 states, the state legislature has primary responsibility for creating a redistricting plan, in many cases subject to approval by the state governor. To reduce the role that legislative politics might play, twelve states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington) determine congressional redistricting by an independent or bipartisan redistricting commission. [2] Five states: Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia give independent bodies authority to propose redistricting plans, but preserve the role of legislatures to approve them. Arkansas has a commission composed of its governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.

State legislature (United States) legislature of a U.S. state

A state legislature in the United States is the legislative body of any of the 50 U.S. states. The formal name varies from state to state. In 25 states, the legislature is simply called the Legislature, or the State Legislature, while in 19 states, the legislature is called the General Assembly. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the legislature is called the General Court, while North Dakota and Oregon designate the legislature the Legislative Assembly.

Governor (United States) position of the head of the government of a state or territory of the United States

In the United States, a governor serves as the chief executive officer and commander-in-chief in each of the fifty states and in the five permanently inhabited territories, functioning as both head of state and head of government therein. As such, governors are responsible for implementing state laws and overseeing the operation of the state executive branch. As state leaders, governors advance and pursue new and revised policies and programs using a variety of tools, among them executive orders, executive budgets, and legislative proposals and vetoes. Governors carry out their management and leadership responsibilities and objectives with the support and assistance of department and agency heads, many of whom they are empowered to appoint. A majority of governors have the authority to appoint state court judges as well, in most cases from a list of names submitted by a nominations committee.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

State constitutions and laws also mandate which body has responsibility over drawing the state legislature boundaries. [3] In addition, those municipal governments that are elected on a district basis (as opposed to at-large) also redistrict.

At-large is a designation for members of a governing body who are elected or appointed to represent the whole membership of the body, rather than a subset of that membership. At-large voting is in contrast to voting by electoral districts.

Redistricting criteria

The Reapportionment Act of 1929 withdrew the size and population requirements for Congressional districts, last stated in the Apportionment Act of 1911. The previous apportionment acts required districts be contiguous, compact, and equally populated.

Reapportionment Act of 1929 United States Law providing for 435 Representatives in the House

The Reapportionment Act of 1929 was a combined census and apportionment bill passed by the United States Congress on June 18, 1929, that established a permanent method for apportioning a constant 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives according to each census.

Apportionment Act of 1911 United States Law passed by the 62nd Congress

The Apportionment Act of 1911 was an apportionment bill passed by the United States Congress on August 8, 1911. The law initially set the number of members of the United States House of Representatives at 433, effective with the 63rd Congress on March 4, 1913. It also included, in section 2, a provision to add an additional seat for each of the anticipated new states of Arizona and New Mexico, bringing the total number of seats to 435.

Now, each state can set its own standards for Congressional and legislative districts. [4] In addition to equalizing the population of districts and complying with federal requirements, criteria may include attempting to create compact, contiguous districts, trying to keep political units and communities within a single district, and avoiding the drawing of boundaries for purposes of partisan advantage or incumbent protection. [5]

Redistricting may follow other criteria depending on State and local laws: [6]

  1. compactness
  2. contiguity
  3. equal population
  4. preservation of existing political communities
  5. partisan fairness
  6. racial fairness [7]

Esri has offered its services as a platform for redestricting to allow for complete government transparency. Since the process of redistricting is intrinsically linked to geography, GIS can address this issue effectively. [6]

Gerrymandering

Gerrymandering, the practice of drawing district boundaries to achieve political advantage for legislators, involves the manipulation of district boundaries to leave out, or include, specific populations in a particular district to ensure a legislator's reelection or to advantage their party.

In states where the legislature (or another body where a partisan majority is possible) is in charge of redistricting, the possibility of gerrymandering (the deliberate manipulation of political boundaries for electoral advantage, usually of incumbents or a specific political party) often makes the process very politically contentious, especially when the majorities of the two houses of the legislature, or the legislature and the governor, are from different parties.

Partisan domination of state legislatures and improved technology to design contiguous districts that pack opponents into as few districts as possible have led to district maps which are skewed towards one party. Consequently, many states including Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin have succeeded in reducing or effectively eliminating competition for most House seats in those states.[ citation needed ] Some states, including California, New Jersey and New York, protect incumbents of both parties, reducing the number of competitive districts.[ citation needed ]

The state and federal court systems are often involved in resolving disputes over Congressional and legislative redistricting when gridlock prevents redistricting in a timely manner. In addition, those disadvantaged by a proposed redistricting plan may challenge it in state and federal courts. Justice Department approval (which is known as pre-clearance) was formerly required under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in certain states that have had a history of racial barriers to voting. The Supreme Court's ruling on the Pennsylvania redistricting effectively allows elected officials to select their constituents by eliminating most of the grounds for constituents to challenge district lines. [8]

U.S. Supreme Court cases relating to redistricting

See also

Related Research Articles

Gerrymandering manipulation of electoral borders to favor certain electoral outcomes, or an electoral district thus manipulated

Gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries.

Virginia General Assembly legislative body of Virginia, United States

The Virginia General Assembly is the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World, established on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly is a bicameral body consisting of a lower house, the Virginia House of Delegates, with 100 members, and an upper house, the Senate of Virginia, with 40 members. Combined together, the General Assembly consists of 140 elected representatives from an equal number of constituent districts across the commonwealth. The House of Delegates is presided over by the Speaker of the House, while the Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. The House and Senate each elect a clerk and sergeant-at-arms. The Senate of Virginia's clerk is known as the "Clerk of the Senate".

Apportionment is the process by which seats in a legislative body are distributed among administrative divisions entitled to representation.

Alabamas congressional districts

Alabama is currently divided into 7 congressional districts, each represented by a member of the United States House of Representatives. After the 2010 Census, the number of Alabama's seats remained unchanged.

Pennsylvanias 6th congressional district

Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District is a congressional district in the state of Pennsylvania. It includes the entirety of Chester County, the city of Reading and its southeastern suburbs in Berks County. The district is represented by Chrissy Houlahan. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania redrew the district in February 2018 after ruling the previous map unconstitutional.

Ohios 9th congressional district American political district

Ohio's 9th congressional district has been represented by Representative Marcy Kaptur (D) since 1983.

The redistricting of United States congressional districts is made by the legislatures of the states every 10 years, immediately following the official announcement of the federal census that serves as the basis of the apportionment. It was long the practice that the apportionment thus made stood until after the next decennial census.

Californias congressional districts Representative districts in the U.S. state of California

California is the most populous U.S. state and as a result has the most representation in the United States House of Representatives, with 53 Representatives. Each Representative represents one congressional district.

League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 548 U.S. 399 (2006), is a Supreme Court of the United States case in which the Court ruled that only District 23 of the 2003 Texas redistricting violated the Voting Rights Act. The Court refused to throw out the entire plan, ruling that the plaintiffs failed to state a sufficient claim of partisan gerrymandering.

Pennsylvanias congressional districts Congressional districting since 2003

After the 2000 Census, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was divided into 19 Congressional Districts, decreasing from 21 due to reapportionment. After the 2010 Census, the number of districts decreased again to 18.

Virginias congressional districts

Virginia is currently divided into 11 congressional districts, each represented by a member of the United States House of Representatives. The number of Virginia's districts remained unchanged following the 2010 Census.

Redistricting commission body which oversees electoral redistricting

In the United States of America, a redistricting commission is a body, other than the usual state legislative bodies, established to draw electoral district boundaries. Generally the intent is to avoid gerrymandering, or at least the appearance of gerrymandering, by specifying a nonpartisan or bipartisan body to comprise the commission drawing district boundaries. However, a number of these commissions, much like some state boards of election, are set up to give the majority party more seats on the commission, or effective control of the commission.

Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267 (2004), was a case heard before the United States Supreme Court. The ruling was significant in the area of partisan redistricting and political gerrymandering. The court, in a plurality decision by Justice Antonin Scalia and joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas, with Justice Anthony Kennedy concurring in the judgment, upheld the ruling of the District Court in favor of the appellees that the alleged political gerrymandering was not unconstitutional.

Davis v. Bandemer, 478 U.S. 109 (1986), is a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that claims of partisan gerrymandering were justiciable, but failed to agree on a clear standard for the judicial review of the class of claims of a political nature to which such cases belong. The decision was later limited with respect to many of the elements directly involving issues of redistricting and political gerrymandering, but was somewhat broadened with respect to less significant ancillary procedural issues. Democrats had won 51.9% of the votes, but only 43/100 seats. Democrats sue on basis of one man one vote, however, California democrats supported Indiana GOP plan.

Redistricting in Pennsylvania refers to the decennial process of redrawing state and federal congressional districts in Pennsylvania.

Gerrymandering in the United States Setting electoral district boundaries to favor specific political interests in legislative bodies

Gerrymandering in the United States is the practice of setting boundaries of electoral districts to favor specific political interests within legislative bodies. Partisan gerrymandering to increase the power of a political party has been practiced since the beginning of the United States.

Redistricting will occur in the United States in 2022, following the completion of the 2020 United States Census. In all fifty states, various bodies will re-draw state legislative districts. In states with more than one member of the United States House of Representatives, new lines will also be drawn for federal House districts. Political parties prepare for redistricting years in advance, and partisan control of redistricting institutions can provide a party with major advantages. Various laws and court decisions have put constraints on redistricting institutions, but redistricting institutions continue to practice gerrymandering, which involves drawing new districts with the intention of giving a political advantage to specific groups. Aside from the possibility of mid-decade redistricting, the districts drawn in 2022 will remain in effect until the next round of redistricting following the 2030 United States Census.

Gill v. Whitford, 585 U.S. ___ (2018), was a United States Supreme Court case involving the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. Other forms of gerrymandering based on racial or ethnic grounds have been deemed unconstitutional, and while the Supreme Court has identified that extreme partisan gerrymandering can also be unconstitutional, the Court has not agreed on how this can be defined, leaving the question to lower courts to decide.

Redistricting in Virginia has been a controversial topic due to allegations of gerrymandering. In the 2017 Virginia General Assembly, all of the redistricting reform bills were killed.

References

  1. 2 U.S. Code § 2c - Number of Congressional Districts; number of Representatives from each District
  2. "2009 Redistricting Commission Table". National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). June 28, 2008. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  3. Blake, Aaron. "Government Redistricting Web Sites". Purdue University Libraries. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
  4. "TheHill.com - Redistricting looms over 2010 landscape". thehill.com. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
  5. Miller, Jason C.,Community as a Redistricting Principle: Consulting Media Markets in Drawing District Lines (July 6, 2010). Indiana Law Journal Supplement, Vol. 5, 2010.
  6. 1 2 "ArcGIS is Making Redistricting More Efficient and Transparent" (PDF), ArcUser, p. 26, Spring 2018
  7. Jacobson, Gary (2013). The Politics of Congressional Elections. New Jersey: PEARSON Education. p. 9.
  8. "Vieth v. Jubelirer". supct.law.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2009-08-25.