Redistricting in Arizona

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Redistricting in Arizona
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General information
Current legislative control:
Republican
Congressional process:
Independent commission
State legislature process:
Independent commission
Total seats
Congress: 9
State Senate: 30
State House: 60
Redistricting in other states
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RedistrictingState-by-state redistricting proceduresState legislative and congressional redistricting after the 2010 Census
Redistricting is the process by which new congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn. Each of Arizona's nine United States Representatives and 90 state legislators are elected from political divisions called districts. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the United States Census. The federal government stipulates that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity.

Redistricting is a fiercely-contested issue, primarily due to gerrymandering, the practice of drawing district lines to favor one political party or constituency over another. Two areas of contention include the following:

Competitiveness: Political parties and incumbents sometimes draw district lines for their benefit at the expense of proportionality and fair representation. Some argue that this phenomenon contributes to the present lack of competitive elections. Uncompetitive elections can in turn discourage participation.[1]
Race and ethnicity: District lines sometimes minimize the influence of minority voters by disproportionately consolidating them within single districts or splitting them across several districts. These practices are known as "packing" and "cracking," respectively.[1][2][3][4]
In Arizona, an independent commission is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines. In 2014, five elections for the United States House of Representatives were won by margins of victory of 20 percent or greater. The smallest margin of victory was 0.1 percent. An election is considered competitive if the margin of victory is 5 percent or less.

Background

See also: Redistricting

Federal law stipulates that all districts, whether congressional or state legislative, must meet two primary criteria.

  1. Equal population: According to All About Redistricting, federal law "requires that each district have about the same population: each federal district within a state must have about the same number of people [and] each state district within a state must have about the same number of people." Specific standards for determining whether populations are sufficiently equal vary for congressional and state legislative districts. See below for further details.[5]
  2. Race and ethnicity: Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 states that district lines must not dilute the voting power of racial or ethnic minority groups. This provision "applies whether the denial is intentional, or an unintended end result. Courts essentially test whether the way that districts are drawn takes decisive political power away from a cohesive minority bloc otherwise at risk for discrimination."[5]

In most states, the legislatures are primarily responsible for both congressional and state legislative redistricting. However, reformers argue that partisan legislators are incapable of establishing fair district lines because they have a vested interest in the outcome. Instead, reformers advocate using different redistricting processes, including independent commissions or electronic methods. Opponents of these reforms argue that alternative processes are less accountable to voters, subject to partisan abuse, and perhaps unconstitutional.

Key terms and concepts

"Gerrymandering"
  1. A community of interest is a "group of people in a geographical area, such as a specific region or neighborhood, who have common political, social or economic interests." A total of 24 states require that the maintenance of communities of interest be considered in the drawing of state legislative districts. A total of 13 states impose similar requirements for congressional districts.[5][6]
  2. Compactness refers to the general principle that "the distance between all parts of a district" ought to be minimized. The United States Supreme Court has "construed compacted to indicate that residents have some sort of cultural cohesion in common." A total of 37 states "require their legislative districts to be reasonably compact." A total of 18 states impose similar requirements for congressional districts.[5][6]
  3. Contiguity refers to the principle that all areas within a district should be "physically adjacent." A total of 49 states require that districts of at least one state legislative chamber be contiguous. A total of 23 states require that congressional districts meet contiguity requirements.[5][6]
  4. Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing district lines to favor one political party or constituency over another.[7][8]
  5. A total of 42 states require that state legislative district lines be drawn to account for political boundaries (e.g., the limits of counties, cities and towns). A total of 19 states require that similar considerations be made in the drawing of congressional districts. Typically, these requirements are quite flexible.[5][6]

Congressional redistricting

According to Article 1, Section 4, of the United States Constitution, the states and their legislatures have primary authority in determining the "times, places and manner" of congressional elections. Congress may also pass laws regulating congressional elections. Section 4 explicitly vests the authority to regulate congressional elections with the legislative branches of the states and the federal government and not with the executive or judicial branches.[9][10]

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.[11]

—United States Constitution

Article 1, Section 2, of the United States Constitution stipulates that congressional representatives be apportioned to the states on the basis of population. There are 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives. Each state is allotted a portion of these seats based on the size of its population relative to the other states. Consequently, a state may gain seats in the House if its population grows, or lose seats if its population decreases, relative to populations in other states. In 1964, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Wesberry v. Sanders that the populations of House districts must be equal "as nearly as practicable."[12][13][5]

The equal population requirement for congressional districts is strict. According to All About Redistricting, "any district with more or fewer people than the average (also know as the 'ideal' population), must be specifically justified by a consistent state policy. And even consistent policies that cause a 1 percent spread from largest to smallest district will likely be unconstitutional."[5]

State legislative redistricting

The United States Constitution is silent on the issue of state legislative redistricting. In the mid-1960s, the United States Supreme Court issued a series of rulings in an effort to clarify standards for state legislative redistricting. In Reynolds v. Sims, the court ruled that "the Equal Protection Clause [of the United States Constitution] demands no less than substantially equal state legislative representation for all citizens, of all places as well as of all races." According to All About Redistricting, "it has become accepted that a [redistricting] plan will be constitutionally suspect if the largest and smallest districts [within a state or jurisdiction] are more than 10 percent apart."

State process

See also: State-by-state redistricting procedures

In 37 states, legislatures are primarily responsible for drawing congressional district lines. Seven states have only one congressional district each, so congressional redistricting is not necessary. Four states employ independent commissions to draw the district maps. In two states, politician commissions draw congressional district lines.

State legislative district lines are primarily the province of the state legislatures themselves in 37 states. In seven states, politician commissions draw state legislative district lines. In the remaining six states, independent commissions draw the lines.[14]

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines. The commission is composed of five members. Of these, four are selected by the majority and minority leaders of each chamber of the state legislature from a list of 25 candidates nominated by the state commission on appellate court appointments. These 25 nominees comprise 10 Democrats, 10 Republicans and 5 unaffiliated citizens. The four commission members appointed by legislative leaders then select the fifth member to round out the commission. The fifth member of the commission must belong to a different political party than the other commissioners. The governor, with a two-thirds vote in the Arizona State Senate, may remove a commissioner "for substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office." The Arizona State Legislature may make recommendations to the commission, but ultimate authority is vested with the commission.[15][16][17]

The Arizona Constitution requires that both congressional and state legislative districts be "contiguous, geographically compact, and respect communities of interest--all to the extent practicable." The state constitution further mandates that district lines "should [follow] visible geographic features, city, town, and county boundaries, and undivided census tracts." In addition, the constitution requires that "competitive districts be favored where doing so would not significantly detract from the goals above."[17]

District maps

Congressional districts

See also: United States congressional delegations from Arizona
Click the above image to enlarge it.
Source: The National Atlas of the United States of America

Arizona comprises nine congressional districts. The map to the right depicts Arizona's congressional district lines as drawn following the 2010 United States Census. The table below lists Arizona's current House representatives.

Arizona delegation to the United States House of Representatives
NamePartyPositionAssumed officeTerm ends
Ann KirkpatrickDemocratic PartyDistrict 1 2013January 3, 2017
David SchweikertRepublican PartyDistrict 6 2011January 3, 2017
Kyrsten SinemaDemocratic PartyDistrict 9 2013January 3, 2017
Martha McSallyRepublican PartyDistrict 2 2015January 3, 2017
Matt SalmonRepublican PartyDistrict 5 2013January 3, 2017
Paul GosarRepublican PartyDistrict 4 2011January 3, 2017
Raul GrijalvaDemocratic PartyDistrict 3 2003January 3, 2017
Ruben GallegoDemocratic PartyDistrict 7 2015January 3, 2017
Trent FranksRepublican PartyDistrict 8 2003January 3, 2017

State legislative maps

See also: Arizona State Senate and Arizona House of Representatives

Arizona comprises 30 legislative districts. Each district elects one state senator and two state representatives. Both senators and representatives are elected every two years in partisan elections. To access the state legislative district map approved in 2012, click here.[18]

Competitiveness

Some critics contend that the dominant redistricting methods result in a lack of competitive elections. Jennifer Clark, a political science professor at the University of Houston, said, "The redistricting process has important consequences for voters. In some states, incumbent legislators work together to protect their own seats, which produces less competition in the political system. Voters may feel as though they do not have a meaningful alternative to the incumbent legislator. Legislators who lack competition in their districts have less incentive to adhere to their constituents’ opinions."[19]

The individuals involved in redistricting must balance the desire for increased competitiveness with other principles that might conflict with that goal, such as compactness, contiguity, and maintaining communities of interest. For instance, it may at times be impossible to draw a competitive district that is both compact and preserves communities of interest.

In 2011, James Cottrill, a professor of political science at Santa Clara University, published a study of the effect of "non-legislative approaches" to redistricting on the competitiveness of congressional elections. Cottrill found that "particular types of [non-legislative approaches] encourage the appearance in congressional elections of experienced and well-financed challengers." Cottrill cautioned, however, that non-legislative approaches "contribute neither to decreased vote percentages when incumbents win elections nor to a greater probability of their defeat."[20]

Congress

CongressLogo.png
See also: Margin of victory analysis for the 2014 congressional elections

In 2014, Ballotpedia analyzed the margins of victory in all 435 contests for the United States House of Representatives. Ballotpedia found that the average margin of victory was 35.8 percent, compared to 31.8 percent in 2012. A total of 318 elections (73 percent of all House elections) were won by margins of victory of 20 percent or more. Only 26 elections (6 percent of the total) were won by margins of victory of 5 percent or less.

In Arizona, five elections for the United States House of Representatives were won by margins of victory of 20 percent or greater. The smallest margin of victory occurred in District 2, where Martha McSally (R) won by 0.1 percent. The greatest margin of victory occurred in District 7, where Ruben Gallego (D) won by 60.1 percent. The average margin of victory was 28.3 percent. See the table below for full details.

Electoral margins of victory in 2014 United States House of Representatives elections, Arizona
District Winner Margin of victory Total votes cast Top opponent
District 1 Democratic Party Ann Kirkpatrick 5.2% 185,114 Andy Tobin
District 2 Republican Party Martha McSally 0.1% 219,351 Ron Barber
District 3 Democratic Party Raul Grijalva 11.5% 104,428 Gabriela Saucedo Mercer
District 4 Republican Party Paul Gosar 44.2% 175,179 Mikel Weisser
District 5 Republican Party Matt Salmon 39.2% 179,463 James Woods
District 6 Republican Party David Schweikert 29.7% 199,776 John Williamson
District 7 Democratic Party Ruben Gallego 60.1% 72,454 Joe Cobb
District 8 Republican Party Trent Franks 51.6% 169,776 Stephen Dolgos
District 9 Democratic Party Kyrsten Sinema 12.8% 162,062 Wendy Rogers

State legislatures

See also: Margin of victory in state legislative elections

In 2014, Ballotpedia conducted a study of competitive districts in 46 state legislative chambers between 2010 and 2012. The most recent United States Census was conducted in 2010. This triggered the drawing of the district lines that were in place for elections in 2012. Ballotpedia found that there were 61 fewer competitive general election contests in 2012 than in 2010. Of the 44 chambers studied, 25 experienced a net loss in the number of competitive elections. A total of 17 experienced a net increase. In total, 16.2 percent of the 3,842 legislative contests studied saw competitive general elections in 2010. In 2012, only 14.6 percent of the contests studied saw competitive general elections. For more information regarding this report, including methodology, click here.

There were 10 competitive races for the Arizona House of Representatives in 2012, compared to seven in 2010. There were two mildly competitive races for the state House in 2012, compared to six in 2010. This amounted to a net loss of one competitive seat.

There was one competitive race for the Arizona State Senate in 2012, compared to zero in 2010. There were three mildly competitive races for the state Senate in 2012, compared to two in 2010. This amounted to a net gain of two competitive seats.

Partisan composition

The tables below summarize the current partisan composition of the Arizona House of Representatives and the Arizona State Senate.

House

SLP badge.png
Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 24
     Republican Party 36
Total 60

Senate

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 13
     Republican Party 17
Total 30


Race and ethnicity

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 mandates that electoral district lines cannot be drawn in such a manner as to "improperly dilute minorities' voting power."

No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.[11]

—Voting Rights Act of 1965[21]

States and other political subdivisions may create majority-minority districts in order to comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. A majority-minority district (sometimes called a minority opportunity district) is a district in which a minority group comprises a majority of the district's total population. As of 2013, Arizona was home to two congressional majority-minority districts: District 3 and District 7.[2][3][4]

Proponents of majority-minority districts maintain that these districts are a necessary hindrance to the practice of "cracking." Cracking occurs when a constituency is divided between several districts in order to prevent it from achieving a majority in any one district. In addition, supporters argue that the drawing of majority-minority districts has resulted in an increased number of minority representatives in state legislatures and Congress.[2][3][4]

Critics, meanwhile, contend that the establishment of majority-minority districts results in "packing." Packing occurs when a constituency or voting group is placed within a single district, thereby minimizing its influence in other districts. Because minority groups tend to vote Democratic, critics argue that majority-minority districts ultimately present an unfair advantage to Republicans by consolidating Democratic votes into a smaller number of districts.[2][3][4]

Demographics

See also: Demographics of congressional districts as of 2013 and Demographics of congressional districts as of 2013 (as percentages)

The tables below provide demographic information for each of Arizona's congressional districts as of 2013. At that time, the population of the largest congressional district, District 5, totaled 729,216, and the population of the smallest, District 3, totaled 713,955, which represented a difference of 2.1 percent.[22]

Demographics of Arizona's congressional districts (as percentages)
District Hispanic White Black Native
American
Asian Pacific
Islander
Other Multiple
races
Arizona 29.88% 57.35% 3.90% 4.00% 2.76% 0.18% 0.12% 1.82%
District 1 20.5% 51% 2.2% 22.8% 1.4% 0.2% 0.1% 1.8%
District 2 26.3% 63.7% 3.7% 0.9% 2.8% 0.2% 0.1% 2.3%
District 3 61.3% 28.2% 4.3% 3.4% 1.5% 0.1% 0.1% 1.1%
District 4 18.8% 74.9% 1.7% 1.7% 0.9% 0.2% 0.1% 1.7%
District 5 17% 72.6% 2.8% 0.8% 4.4% 0.2% 0.1% 2%
District 6 14.8% 75.3% 2.5% 1.5% 3.8% 0.1% 0.1% 1.9%
District 7 64.4% 21% 8.9% 2.1% 2.1% 0.2% 0.2% 1.1%
District 8 19.2% 70.9% 3.8% 0.8% 3% 0.1% 0.1% 2%
District 9 27% 57.8% 5.2% 2.2% 4.6% 0.4% 0.2% 2.5%
Source: United States Census Bureau, "2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates," accessed April 8, 2015
Demographics of Arizona's congressional districts
District Hispanic White Black Native
American
Asian Pacific
Islander
Other Multiple
races
Total
Arizona 1,935,948 3,716,047 252,752 258,904 178,627 11,818 7,539 118,068 6,479,703
District 1 146,693 364,671 15,406 162,863 10,118 1,508 525 13,121 714,905
District 2 187,687 455,694 26,372 6,419 20,332 1,252 893 16,260 714,909
District 3 437,743 201,643 30,418 23,964 10,730 1,050 714 7,693 713,955
District 4 134,308 535,137 12,454 11,949 6,626 1,156 542 12,123 714,295
District 5 124,089 529,298 20,735 6,174 32,284 1,345 623 14,668 729,216
District 6 107,582 546,227 17,795 10,526 27,765 472 885 13,783 725,035
District 7 462,963 150,628 64,144 15,144 15,379 1,578 1,475 7,664 718,975
District 8 139,196 514,294 27,552 5,689 22,011 797 743 14,686 724,968
District 9 195,687 418,455 37,876 16,176 33,382 2,660 1,139 18,070 723,445
Source: United States Census Bureau, "2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates," accessed April 8, 2015

Redistricting after the 2010 census

See also: Redistricting in Arizona after the 2010 census

Following completion of the 2010 United States Census, Arizona gained one congressional seat. On October 3, 2011, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission released draft congressional and state legislative district maps. The commission approved the final maps on January 17, 2012. The United States Department of Justice granted preclearance to the congressional maps on April 9, 2012. The state legislative maps were precleared on April 26, 2012. A number of lawsuits followed, including Arizona State Legislative v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Further details about this case are provided below.[17]

On November 1, 2011, the chair of the redistricting commission, Colleen Mathis, was impeached for alleged violations of the state's Open Meetings Law. Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, acting on behalf of Governor Jan Brewer (R), wrote to Mathis, "I have determined that you have failed to conduct the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's business in meetings open to the public, and failed to adjust the grid map as necessary to accommodate all of the goals set forth [in the Arizona Constitution]." Mathis's removal was confirmed by a two-thirds vote in the Arizona State Senate. On November 17, 2011, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the impeachment was improper and reinstated Mathis as chair of the commission.[17][23]

Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

See also: Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is a case before the United States Supreme Court. At issue is the constitutionality of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which was established by state constitutional amendment in 2000. According to Article 1, Section 4, of the United States Constitution, "the Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof." The state legislature argues that the use of the word "legislature" in this context is literal; therefore, only a state legislature may draw congressional district lines. Meanwhile, the commission contends that the word "legislature" ought to be interpreted more broadly to mean "the legislative powers of the state," including voter initiatives and referenda.[24][25]

The states have enacted a variety of redistricting reforms intended to make the process less partisan and more fair. According to The Washington Post, six states employ independent commissions to conduct congressional redistricting: Arizona, California, Idaho, Washington, Montana and Alaska. Should the court rule in favor of the Arizona State Legislature in this case, independent redistricting commissions in these states could be affected. Furthermore, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, the court's ruling might impact a broad assortment of voter-initiated state election laws. The court is expected to issue its ruling in June 2015.[26][27][28][29]

Redistricting after the 2000 census

Arizona's congressional map was granted preclearance by the United States Department of Justice on March 26, 2002. Final state legislative district lines were adopted by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission on August 14, 2002. The United States Department of Justice granted preclearance to the state legislative map on February 10, 2003. Court challenges were filed against both the congressional and state legislative maps, but these challenges were ultimately dismissed.[17]

Redistricting ballot measures

Voting on
elections and campaigns
Campaignsandelections.jpg
Ballot measures
By state
By year
Not on ballot
See also: Redistricting measures on the ballot and List of Arizona ballot measures

Ballotpedia has tracked the following ballot measure(s) relating to redistricting in Arizona.

  1. Arizona Creation of a Redistricting Commission, Proposition 106 (2000)
  2. Arizona Equitable Representative for Counties, Proposition 2 (1918)
  3. Arizona Legislative Redistricting, Questions 106 and 107 (1916)
  4. Arizona Legislative Redistricting by County, Proposition 3 (1930)
  5. Arizona Number of Legislators by County, Proposition 1 (1924)
  6. Arizona Proposition 10, State Legislative Redistricting (1968)

Recent news

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See also

External links

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 All About Redistricting, "Why does it matter?" accessed April 8, 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Indy Week, "Cracked, stacked and packed: Initial redistricting maps met with skepticism and dismay," June 29, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 The Atlantic, "How the Voting Rights Act Hurts Democrats and Minorities," June 17, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Redrawing the Lines, "The Role of Section 2 - Majority Minority Districts," accessed April 6, 2015
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 All About Redistricting, "Where are the lines drawn?" accessed April 9, 2015
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 FairVote, "Redistricting Glossary," accessed April 9, 2015
  7. The Atlantic, "The Twisted History of Gerrymandering in American Politics," September 19, 2012
  8. Encyclopædia Britannica, "Gerrymandering," November 4, 2014
  9. The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, "Election Regulations," accessed April 13, 2015
  10. Brookings, "Redistricting and the United States Constitution," March 22, 2011
  11. 11.0 11.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  12. Brennan Center for Justice, "A Citizen's Guide to Redistricting," accessed March 25, 2015
  13. The Constitution of the United States of America, "Article 1, Section 2," accessed March 25, 2015
  14. All About Redistricting, "Who draws the lines?" accessed March 25, 2015
  15. Supreme Court of the United States, "Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, et al. - Appellant's Jurisdictional Statement," accessed March 6, 2015
  16. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, "Home page," accessed March 6, 2015
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 All About Redistricting, "Arizona," accessed April 17, 2015
  18. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, "Maps," accessed April 17, 2015
  19. The Daily Cougar, "Redistricting will affect November election," October 16, 2012
  20. Polity, "The Effects of Non-Legislative Approaches to Redistricting on Competition in Congressional Elections," October 3, 2011
  21. Yale Law School, The Avalon Project, "Voting Rights Act of 1965; August 6, 1965," accessed April 6, 2015
  22. United States Census Bureau, "2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates," accessed April 8, 2015
  23. State of Arizona, "Commissioner Colleen Mathis, Chair Impeachment Letters," November 1, 2011
  24. The New York Times, "Court Skeptical of Arizona Plan for Less-Partisan Congressional Redistricting," March 2, 2015
  25. The Atlantic, "Will the Supreme Court Let Arizona Fight Gerrymandering?" September 15, 2014
  26. Montana and Alaska each have only one delegate in the United States House of Representatives.
  27. The Washington Post, "Supreme Court takes up highly political Arizona redistricting case," March 2, 2015
  28. National Public Radio, "Supreme Court Seems Divided Over Independent Redistricting Commissions," March 2, 2015
  29. Brennan Center for Justice, "Could the Supreme Court Make Dozens of State Election Laws Unconstitutional?" accessed March 6, 2015