Redistricting


Redistricting

Redistricting is the process of drawing United States electoral district boundaries, often in response to population changes determined by the results of the decennial census.[1] In 36 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, seven states (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington), carry out congressional redistricting by an independent or bipartisan commission. Three states, Florida, Iowa and Maine, give independent bodies authority to propose redistricting plans, but preserve the role of legislatures to approve them. Seven states have only a single representative for the entire state because of their low populations; these are Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.

State constitutions and laws also mandate which body has responsibility over drawing the state legislature boundaries.[2] In addition, those municipal governments that are elected on a district basis (as opposed to at-large) also redistrict.

Each state has its own standards for creating Congressional and legislative districts.[3] 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.[4] In the states where the legislature (or another body where a partisan majority is possible such as IL or OH) 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 two houses of the legislature, or the legislature and the governor, are from different parties. 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, the losers to an adopted redistricting plan often challenge it in state and federal courts. Justice Department approval (which is known as preclearence) is required under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in certain states that have had a history of racial barriers to voting.

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, Pennsylvania and Texas have succeeded in reducing or effectively eliminating competition for most House seats in those states that it has deadened competition for House seats nationally. Other states including California, New Jersey and New York have opted to protect incumbents of both parties, again reducing the number of competitive districts. The Supreme Court's ruling on the Pennsylvania gerrymander[5] effectively cemented the right of elected officials to select their constituents by eliminating most of the grounds for disenfranchised constituents to challenge gerrymandered lines.

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Public schools

Redistricting is also necessary within (but not among) school districts, where attendance zones have grown (or occasionally shrunk) disproportionately to the occupancy capacity of each public school in the system. This always occurs when a new school is built or one is closed, but may also occur due to other shifts in population. These districts are necessary not only to balance enrollment, but also to coordinate school bus routes. Separate maps are usually kept for each level: elementary school, middle school, and high school, for example. This is not an inherently political process, however parents can become very upset when their children are moved from a school they like (or to one they don't), and occasionally elected school boards have been forced to change plans after protests. Even those without school-age children may take an interest in school redistricting, as it is perceived to affect the resale value of a home, and real estate agents and companies (and "for sale by owner" listings) often list school attendance districts for each home as a selling point.

Gerrymandering

Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing district lines to achieve political gain for legislators. The practice of gerrymandering involves the manipulation of district drawing in aims to leave out, or include, specific populations in a legislator's district to ensure his/her reelection.

See also

References

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • redistricting — re|dis|trict|ing [ ,ri dıstrıktıŋ ] noun uncount AMERICAN the process of changing the number, size, or shape of districts in a state, city, etc. usually because of new information about the number of people living there …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • redistricting — rɪːdɪstrɪkt v. redivide into districts, repartition into regions …   English contemporary dictionary

  • redistricting — See reapportionment …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • Redistricting commission — A redistricting commission is a body designated to draw district lines. Usually the intent is to avoid gerrymandering by specifying a nonpartisan or bipartisan body to comprise the commission. Like state boards of election, however, they are also …   Wikipedia

  • 2003 Texas redistricting — The 2003 Texas redistricting refers to a highly controversial congressional redistricting plan appealed to the United States Supreme Court in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry . On June 28, 2006, the Supreme Court upheld the… …   Wikipedia

  • Citizens Redistricting Commission — The Citizens Redistricting Commission is the redistricting organization for the state of California. It is responsible for determining the boundaries for the Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization districts in the state. The 14 member… …   Wikipedia

  • New Jersey Redistricting Commission — The New Jersey Redistricting Commission is a constitutional body of the government of New Jersey. Like Arizona, Idaho, Hawaii, Montana, and Washington; the redistricting is completed within an independent, bipartisan commission. The apportionment …   Wikipedia

  • Maptitude for Redistricting — Infobox Software name = Maptitude for Redistricting caption = author = developer = Caliper Corporation released = latest release version = 5.0 latest release date = 2008 latest preview version = latest preview date = programming language =… …   Wikipedia

  • History of 19th century congressional redistricting in Ohio — 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… …   Wikipedia

  • Gerrymandering — Jerrymander redirects here. Jerrymander may also refer to the arachnid known as Solifugae. For the 2010 documentary film, see Gerrymandering (film). Part of the Politics series …   Wikipedia


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