State-by-state redistricting procedures
|Redistricting by state|
State legislative and congressional redistricting after the 2010 Census
State-by-state redistricting procedures
- 1 Methods
- 2 State-by-state procedures
- 3 Issues
- 4 Recent news
- 5 See also
- 6 External links
- 7 References
- See also: Redistricting
In 37 states, legislatures are primarily responsible for the drawing of congressional district lines. There are seven states that have only one congressional district each. These are not counted among the aforementioned 37 states. In 37 states, legislatures have primary authority to draw state legislative district boundaries.
In these states, the legislatures typically adopt district lines by a simple majority vote in each chamber. A state's governor may usually veto the legislature's redistricting plan. Two states, Connecticut and Maine, require two-thirds majorities in each chamber in order to approve district lines. Five states, including Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi and North Carolina, set electoral boundaries by joint resolution. In these states, the governor cannot veto the legislature's decision.
Several states employ advisory commissions to assist in the drawing of congressional and state legislative district lines. These commissions may make recommendations to their respective state legislatures, but the legislatures are not necessarily required to adhere to these recommendations.
Backup commissions and procedures
Seven states utilize backup commissions and other procedures to establish state legislative district lines in the event that the state legislatures are unable to agree on redistricting plans. These include Connecticut, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Illinois. Indiana and Connecticut employ similar methods for congressional district lines.
- In Maryland, the governor's preferred plan is enacted if the state legislature fails to adopt new state legislative districts.
- In Oregon, the secretary of state draws state legislative district lines in the event of legislative gridlock.
- In Connecticut and Illinois, backup commissions comprise members appointed by leaders of the state legislatures.
- In Mississippi and Texas, backup commissions comprise statewide elected officials.
- In Oklahoma, the backup commission comprises the governor, the lieutenant governor and members of the legislature's majority party (selected by legislative leaders).
Politician commissions, composed of elected or appointed members, have primary responsibility for congressional redistricting in two states, Hawaii and New Jersey. Such commissions draw state legislative district lines in seven states: Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Independent commissions draw the lines for both state legislative and congressional districts in six states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana and Washington. Specific membership requirements for these commissions vary from state to state. Generally speaking, however, these commissions do not include legislators or other elected officials.
A total of 43 states must draw new congressional district lines every 10 years following completion of United States Census (the remaining seven states have only one congressional district each). In 37 states, state legislatures are primarily responsible for redistricting. In four of these states, advisory commissions are involved in the process; in two, backup commissions or procedures must draw the lines if the state legislature is unable to approve a plan. In four states, independent commissions draw congressional district lines. In two states, politician commissions draw the lines.
The table below details congressional redistricting procedures in each of the 50 states.
State legislative districts
In 37 of the 50 states, state legislatures are primarily responsible for the drawing of state legislative districts. Backup commissions or procedures are employed in seven of these states, and advisory commissions play a part in seven. Independent commissions draw state legislative district lines in six states. In seven states, politician commissions are responsible for state legislative redistricting.
The table below details state legislative redistricting procedures in each of the 50 states.
|State legislative redistricting procedures|
|State||Who draws the lines?||Can the governor veto the lines?||Notes|
|Alabama||Alabama State Legislature||Yes|
|Connecticut||Connecticut State Legislature||No||A backup commission draws the lines in the event that the state legislature cannot approve a plan.|
|Delaware||Delaware State Legislature||Yes|
|Florida||Florida State Legislature||No|
|Georgia||Georgia State Legislature||Yes|
|Illinois||Illinois State Legislature||No||A backup commission draws the lines in the event that the state legislature cannot approve a plan.|
|Indiana||Indiana State Legislature||Yes|
|Iowa||Iowa State Legislature||Yes||An advisory commission is also involved in the process.|
|Kansas||Kansas State Legislature||Yes|
|Kentucky||Kentucky State Legislature||Yes|
|Louisiana||Louisiana State Legislature||Yes|
|Maine||Maine State Legislature||Yes||An advisory commission is also involved in the process.|
|Maryland||Maryland State Legislature||No||The governor's plan takes effect if the legislature cannot approve its own plan by joint resolution.|
|Massachusetts||Massachusetts State Legislature||Yes|
|Michigan||Michigan State Legislature||Yes|
|Minnesota||Minnesota State Legislature||Yes|
|Mississippi||Mississippi State Legislature||No||A backup commission draws the lines in the event that the state legislature cannot approve a plan.|
|Missouri||Politician commission||N/A||Two separate commissions are involved in the state legislative redistricting process: one for the House and one for the state Senate and one for the state House.|
|Nebraska||Nebraska State Legislature||Yes|
|Nevada||Nevada State Legislature||Yes|
|New Hampshire||New Hampshire State Legislature||Yes|
|New Jersey||Politician commission||N/A|
|New Mexico||New Mexico State Legislature||Yes|
|New York||New York State Legislature||Yes||An advisory commission is also involved in the process.|
|North Carolina||North Carolina State Legislature||No|
|North Dakota||North Dakota State Legislature||Yes|
|Ohio||Politician commission||N/A||An advisory commission is also involved in the process.|
|Oklahoma||Oklahoma State Legislature||Yes||A backup commission draws the lines in the event that the state legislature cannot approve a plan.|
|Oregon||Oregon State Legislature||Yes||If the legislature fails to adopt a plan, the secretary of state must draw the district lines.|
|Rhode Island||Rhode Island State Legislature||Yes||An advisory commission is also involved in the process.|
|South Carolina||South Carolina State Legislature||Yes|
|South Dakota||South Dakota State Legislature||Yes|
|Tennessee||Tennessee State Legislature||Yes|
|Texas||Texas State Legislature||Yes||A backup commission draws the lines in the event that the state legislature cannot approve a plan.|
|Utah||Utah State Legislature||Yes|
|Vermont||Vermont State Legislature||Yes||An advisory commission is also involved in the process.|
|Virginia||Virginia State Legislature||Yes||An advisory commission is also involved in the process.|
|Washington||Independent commission||N/A||The legislature may amend the commission's plan with a two-thirds vote.|
|West Virginia||West Virginia State Legislature||Yes|
|Wisconsin||Wisconsin State Legislature||Yes|
|Wyoming||Wyoming State Legislature|
| Source: All About Redistricting, "Who draws the lines?" accessed March 25, 2015|
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.
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.
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."
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 20 percentage points or more. Only 26 elections ( (6 percent of the total) were won by 5 percentage points or less. See the table below for further details.
|Electoral margins of victory in 2014 United States House of Representatives elections|
|Party||0%-5%||5%-10%||10%-20%||20% or more|
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 71 fewer competitive general election contests in 2012 than in 2010. Of the 46 chambers studied, 27 experienced a net loss in the number of competitive elections. A total of 17 experienced a new increase. In total, 15.5 percent of the 4,145 legislative contests studied saw competitive general elections in 2010. In 2012, only 13.8 percent of the contests studied saw competitive general elections. For more information regarding this report, including methodology, click here.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the terms "Redistricting."
- Some of the stories below may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of Google's news search engine.
- All About Redistricting (Loyola Law School)
- United States Census Bureau, Redistricting Data
- National Conference of State Legislatures, Redistricting
- All About Redistricting, "Who draws the lines?" accessed March 25, 2015
- Brennan Center for Justice, "National Overview of Redistricting: Who draws the lines?" June 1, 2010
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "Redistricting Commissions: Legislative Plans," accessed March 25, 2015
- The New York Times, "Court Skeptical of Arizona Plan for Less-Partisan Congressional Redistricting," March 2, 2015
- The Atlantic, "Will the Supreme Court Let Arizona Fight Gerrymandering?" September 15, 2014
- Montana and Alaska each have only one delegate in the United States House of Representatives.
- The Washington Post, "Supreme Court takes up highly political Arizona redistricting case," March 2, 2015
- National Public Radio, "Supreme Court Seems Divided Over Independent Redistricting Commissions," March 2, 2015
- Brennan Center for Justice, "Could the Supreme Court Make Dozens of State Election Laws Unconstitutional?" accessed March 6, 2015
- The Daily Cougar, "Redistricting will affect November election," October 16, 2012