Redistricting Roundup: Even as full census data has yet to be released, already 4 states have lawsuits

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January 28, 2011

BP Redistricting logo.jpg

By Geoff Pallay

How many states have:
Date Lawsuits filed Maps submitted Completed redistricting
1/28/11 5 0 0

Every decade, the 50 states embark on the process of redistricting -- when state legislative and Congressional district lines are redrawn to reflect updated population counts.

There are several different processes by which states can conduct redistricting.

This edition marks the first in a weekly series on redistricting across the country. This report will detail summaries of news pertaining to redistricting.


Arizona's redistricting committee is made up of 5 members. Members are selected by the following:

The fifth and final member is an independent, chosen by the first four appointees. The fifth member will also serve as the chair.

A lawsuit was filed by House Speaker Kirk Adams (R) and Senate President Russell Pearce (R) over the composition of the nominee list for the redistricting committee. They were requested that two Republican nominees and one independent nominee be removed from the list. Adams and Pearce argued that the three candidates did not qualify because they were "public officials" from other civic services. The Arizona Supreme Court on Jan. 18 ruled that two Republican candidates would need to be replaced from the initial list. Additionally, the Court held that the independent -- Paul Bender -- would remain on the final list of 25 candidates.[1] The two names added to replace Mark Schnepf and Steve Sossaman are Crystal Russell and Richard Stertz.[2]

Redistricting Types by State
Legislative Commission Hybrid
11 11 28


Earlier this month, the Illinois House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 3976. The bill would require at least four public hearings for redistricting and add language involving how districts can be drawn.[3]. If signed into law, the new map may have crossover, coalition, or influence districts. A crossover district is where the district has a minority has a big enough population to convince the majority population to cross over and vote for their candidate. A coalition district is where more than one minority group can form together a coalition to get their candidate elected. An influence district is a district where a minority group can make enough of an influence to affect the outcome of an election despite their candidate may not win. The bill has not been signed yet by Gov. Rick Quinn.[4]


In January 2011, Republican senators introduced legislation that would create an independent redistricting commission. The bill was rejected by a 34-5 vote.[5] Senator Rosenberg (D) said he does not believe there is any evidence that independent commissions draw better maps than legislative committees.[6] Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R) introduced the legislation. "Voting is one of the most fundamental rights in Massachusetts. Redistricting affects the enfranchisement of every voter in the state. ...This is not an attempt to try to alter the authority of the Legislature. This is an attempt to draw others into the process," he said.[5] The bill would have established a seven-member commission which would be responsible for drawing the maps. Those maps would then be approved or voted down by the Massachusetts State Legislature. The independent commission was supported by Governor Deval Patrick (D), former Governor Mitt Romney (R), current Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause.[7]


Virginia is one of 4 states to hold legislative elections in 2011. The Virginia House of Delegates approved legislation on January 19, 2011, to change the state's primary election date from June 14 to August 23, 2011, in anticipation of redistricting[8]. The bill is pending a floor vote in the State Senate[9]. The Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections favorably reported the legislation by an unanimous 15-0 vote on January 25, 2011[10].

See also