Creation of Redistricting Commissions

4/6/2018

Background

In the majority of states, state legislatures are responsible for reapportionment and redistricting.

And yet, over the last several decades, there has been a slow move toward delegating this responsibility to commissions. This webpage provides the origins for each of the nation’s redistricting commissions that holds primary responsibility for drawing plans.

In 13 states, commissions have primary responsibility for drawing legislative district lines. In six states, commissions have primary responsibility for drawing congressional lines. The first commission was established in Arkansas in 1956, with one or two more states switching each decade. 

For legislative redistricting, nine states (representing 10 commissions, because Missouri has separate commissions for the House and Senate) created their commissions through legislative referrals. The other four commissions were created through citizens’ initiatives. In all cases, constitutional amendments were required.

For congressional redistricting, four states created their commissions through legislative referrals, and the other two commissions were created through citizens’ initiatives. Here too, constitutional amendments were required.

Some states maintain advisory commissions or backup commissions that come into play if legislators fail to adopt maps of their own. For more information about these non-primary commissions, see NCSL’s webpages on legislative and congressional commissions. See NCSL’s summary of 2017 redistricting commission bills for a summary of recent legislative action on commissions. 

Legislative Redistricting Commissions 

State

How Created

Year Created

Bill/Initiative

Citation

Alaska

Legislative Referral

1998

L.R. No. 74/H.J.R. No. 44

Alaska Const. Art. VI, § 8

Arizona

Citizens’ Initiative

2000

Proposition 106

Ariz. Const. Art. 4, § 1, Pt. 2

Arkansas

Citizens’ Initiative

1956

Proposed Amend. 48

Ark. Const. Art. 8, § 1

California

Citizens’ Initiative

2008

Proposition 11

Cal. Const. Art. 21, § 2

Colorado

Citizens’ Initiative/

replaced by Legislative Referral

1974/2018

Ballot Measure 9/Amendment Z

Colo. Const. Art. 5, § 48 (amended by Amendment Z)

Hawaii

Legislative Referral

1992

HB 2322

Haw. Const. Art. 4, § 2

Idaho

Legislative Referral

1994

S.J.R. No. 105

Idaho Const. Art. III, § 2(2)

Michigan Citizens' Initiative 2018 Ballot Measure 18-2  

Missouri[1]

Legislative Referral/amended by 2018 Citizens' Initiative

1966/2018

Amendment 3/Amendment 1

Mo. Const. Art. III, § 2 (House), § 7 (Senate); as amended by Amendment 1

Montana

Constitutional Convention/Legislative Referral

1972/1984

Constitution, p. 1092-93/1984 Measure C-14

Mont. Const. Art. V, § 14; more from the Secretary of State's office

New Jersey

Legislative Referral

1966

Public Question No. 1

N.J. Const. Art. IV, § 3, ¶ 1

Ohio

Legislative Referral

2015

HJR 12 (2014); Issue 1

OH Const. Art. XI, § 1

Pennsylvania

Legislative Referral

1968 (last amended 2001)

Adopted as part of 1968 State Constitution

PA Const. Art. 2, § 17

Washington

Legislative Referral

1983

SJR 103 (1983)

WA Const. Art. 2, § 43

 

[1] Missouri has separate commissions for its state house and senatorial districts.

Congressional Redistricting Commissions

State

How Created

Year Created

Bill/Initiative

Citation

Arizona

Same as legislative

Colorado

Legislative Referral

2018

Amendment Y

 

California

Citizens’ Initiative

2010

   Proposition 20

Cal. Const. Art. 21, § 2

Hawaii

Same as legislative

Idaho

Same as legislative

Montana

Same as legislative

New Jersey

Legislative Referral

1995

    Public Question #1

N.J. Const. Art. II, § 2, ¶ 1

Washington

Same as legislative

Additional Resources