Redistricting Roundup: Christmas on June 10 for Californians: Draft maps arrive

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June 10, 2011

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Edited by Geoff Pallay

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Today is the day Californian's have been waiting for, as the California Citizens Redistricting Commission is voting on draft maps for congressional and state legislative redistricting.

Some early commentary on the maps indicates that Democrats could benefit from the Congressional map, if approved as is. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report tweeted that Republican Congressman Gallegly (dead link), Dreier, Gary Miller and Brian Bilbray would likely be out of a job under the new map.

More analysis will be unveiled as the maps are released throughout the day. A sampling of places to find analysis:

During the public hearings held across the state in recent months, the Commission received testimony from 1,533 citizens. Now that draft maps have been released, additional public hearings will be held to gauge the public's reaction to the maps.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is a state agency created by the passage of California Proposition 11 (2008). It is drawing the boundary lines for California state legislative districts, Congressional Districts and Board of Equalization districts.

In order for final maps to be approved, it must be approved by at least 9 of the 14 commission members. Those 9 must also contain at least 3 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 3 who are not affiliated with either party. If the Commission map is rejected via either lawsuit or the Department of Justice, then courts will draw the final maps.

Final maps are due to be completed on by August 15.

State news


Governor Robert Bentley (R) signed the state's Congressional redistricting map on June 8, 2011. Just before he signed it, some legislators proposed a last-second change that would have placed Hunstville in the 4th and 5th Congressional districts but left Lauderdale and Colbert counties (Shoals) combined in the 5th District. However, Governor Bentley rejected the proposal and signed the map as it was passed by the legislature. The new map is expected to strengthen the seats of the Republican delegation. Currently the delegation is made up of 6 Republicans and 1 Democrat.

Analysis of the census data shows that legislators could theoretically have drawn a second majority-minority district. Because Alabama is a Voting Rights Act state, its map must be approved by the Department of Justice. If the DOJ determines that Alabama should have created a second majority-minority district, the map could end up in the courts.

Quote of the Week
"We can't expect our members to just be blissfully clue-free about something that's going to impact 36 million people."[1]

-- Nathan Barankin, spokesman for California State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D), commenting on the report that the legislature is spending time and resources on monitoring the California Citizens Redistricting Commission


On Monday, the Alaska Redistricting Board adopted statewide redistricting plans. The plan removes a House seat from the Southeast and adds one in Mat-Su. In order to comply with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act and create a native-influence district, the plan creates a sprawling Senate district which includes Cordova, Dillingham, and Kodiak. The district ranges from the Yukon-Kuskoskwim Delta to Yakutat. The plan also splits the Aleutian Islands into different house districts, a move ruled unconstitutional by the Alaska Supreme Court in 1992. In total, the plan creates six House districts and six Senate districts where Native representatives stand a good chance of being elected. Given population shifts, these districts are largely rural.

Democrats have criticized the plan, which may jeopardize the 10-10 partisan tie in the Alaska Senate. Democrats contend that the new plan could hurt the re-election chances of several Democratic lawmakers, including Bettye Davis, Bill Wielechowski, Joe Paskvan, and Joe Thomas. However, Alaska GOP Chairman Randy Ruedrich argued that maps were fair. Ruedrich noted that the plan only pairs 5 sets of incumbents, with similar numbers of Republican and Democratic legislators affected.

In addition, the plan significantly re-numbers/re-letters the state's legislative districts, beginning in Fairbanks rather than Ketchikan. The plan is not yet finalized, and a few changes may still be made. The final plan and legal documentation must be completed by June 14, 2011.

  • The adopted plan can be found here.
  • A map of the Southeast plan can be found here.
Redistricting Facts
Total States with Lawsuits filed: 19
Next state deadline? Alabama
June 13, 2011
Maps submitted for vote: 35 out of 142 (23.9%)** MS (2), LA (3), AR (1), VA (3), IA (3), NJ (2), MO (1), IN (3), OK (3), TX (2), MN (3), NV (3), NE (2), AL (1), IL (3)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 7 (AR, LA, IA, IN, NE, OK, AL, )
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 7 (NJ, LA, IA, VA, IN, NE, OK)
**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)


The Hawaii Attorney General's office has ok'ed a possible shift to multi-member districts without a constitutional amendment. Hawaii used to employ multi-member districts, but that system was overturned in a 1981 federal lawsuit. According to reports, the office's opinion is based on the fact that the old, multi-member districts were drawn according to registered voters rather than residents. This practice led to significant population deviations among districts and was primarily responsible for the court's intervention. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld multi-member districts provided they do not dilute the voting power of minorities or political groups. Currently, there are 11 states that use some form of multi-member districts when electing legislators.


The legislature is awaiting a decision from the Department of Justice on pre-clearance of its three redistricting maps. A verdict has been promised for June 20, 2011. With sine die adjournment scheduled for 6pm on the 23rd, senior lawmakers are worried that they will have no time for revisions if the DOJ makes such an order. A placeholder bill was passed out of committee in order to give the legislature a starting point for any required adjustments, and senate leadership worked to arrange a private conference call with Justice Department officials in order too push for an accelerated time table.

Also in the legislature, Democrats introduced HB 525, an attempt to tweak the Congressional map to avoid splitting Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes. It was swiftly killed in committee by majority Republicans.


A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Maine's protracted redistricting process (not set to begin until 2013) was heard earlier this week. A panel of federal judges handed down a decision after only 15 minutes -- despite the expectation that a holding would take weeks -- agreeing with plaintiffs that the disproportionate Congressional seats called for a faster timetable. Maine must now have redistricting finished by January 1, 2012, giving the state a constricted timetable and leaving Montana, which has an at-large seat, as the only state that will wait until 2013 to redistrict. The state's Democratic Party had intervened in the suit, hoping to prevent the decision. GOP dominance in the current legislature has Democrats worried that maps drawn this year will favor Republicans.

The legislature is supposed to adjourn on June 15, which adds to the likelihood of Governor Paul LePage (R) calling a special session.


In response to last month's federal court decision ordering Mississippi to hold its off-year elections under the existing maps, the NAACP, who originally brought the lawsuit, filed an intention to appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. If successful, this fall's legislative and executive elections will be held under the maps that were finished but not passed in the spring legislative session. Since the state's June 1st candidate filing deadline has passed, any change at this point could significantly upend the election season.

This Week's Redistricting Highlight
South Carolina redistricting plans will come up for chamber debate next week during a special session in the legislature.

This week, both House and Senate judiciary committees passed state legislative and congressional redistricting maps. The new state senate map has one fewer majority-minority district than the current map. Currently, 10 out of the 46 total Senate districts are majority-minority districts. The ACLU proposed adding an 11th District.


The Nevada General Assembly adjourned sine die without a Congressional or state legislative redistricting plan in place. Last week's hopeful tone was replaced on both sides with disappointment and familiar partisan barbs. Governor Brian Sandoval (R) could still call a special session; otherwise, redistricting will be handled by the courts. Currently, Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller is working on preparing his response to both the Democratic and Republican lawsuits, as he is named in both. Unless Governor Sandoval does call a special session, Secretary Miller has until June 20, 2011 to deliver his responses. After that, what is expected to be a very long legal process would fully begin.

North Carolina

On Thursday, the North Carolina House approved a redistricting reform bill which fundamentally restructures the state's redistricting process. Modeled after Iowa, the proposed law shifts responsibility for redistricting from the state legislature to staff in the Legislative Services Office. Once drafted by the office, the plan would proceed to the legislature for a simple up or down vote. The bill passed the House by a 88-27 margin and now proceeds to the State Senate. If approved, the law would not take effect until after the 2020 census. Maps based on the 2010 census will still be drawn by the legislature.


Congressional redistricting remains bogged down in disagreements from every possible direction. On the legislative side, however, a map is set for a vote today. Prepared by the four committee members assigned to work on districts for the state House and Senate seats, it stands a strong chance of passing both chambers and getting Governor John Kitzhaber's signature. In some ways, it favors Democrats, who have far less to lose if the legislature fails to complete redistricting. On both sides, those who drew the map have anticipated that it won't satisfy everyone. However, it does avoid forcing any incumbents to run against one another and represents the first time legislators have come close to drawing their own map since 1981.


On Monday, the Texas State Senate passed a congressional redistricting map in a 18-12 vote that went directly down party lines. Democrats continued their loud protests that the map did not provide adequate minority representation and that it violated the Voting Rights Act. Democratic Senator Eddie Lucio of Brownsville proclaimed "How is it fair that although Anglos only make up 45 percent of our population, but they control 72 percent of our congressional districts. It does not make any sense; it is unfair."[2] Senator Kel Seliger, Senate Redistricting Committee Chair, defended the map stating "This process continues to be driven by the fairness of the process, and the legality."[2]

The House Committee on Redistricting passed a slightly altered version of the state's congressional map yesterday. From there, the plan is on its way to the full House.[3] Democratic opponents say the changes to the House map further dilute Hispanic voting power in areas such as San Antonio and Fort Worth.


On Thursday, the Virginia State Senate and Virginia House of Delegates approved competing redistricting plans. The chief area of disagreement is the creation of minority-majority districts. The Democrat-drawn Senate plan would create one 51% majority-minority district and transform the state's existing majority-minority district into a 42% minority influence district. The Republican-drawn house plan would preserve the current majority-minority district with a 56% African American majority. A conference committee has been formed to negotiate a compromise plan.

  • The Senate plan can be found here.
  • The House plan can be found here.

See also