Redistricting Commissions: Congressional Plans

4/18/2019

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The information on this webpage refers only to commissions used to draw congressional maps.

Mark your calendars to join NCSL in Las Vegas for our third Get Ready to Redistrict Seminar, May 7-10, 2020.

Traditionally, state legislatures have been responsible for redistricting for state legislative and congressional districts. Since the landmark Supreme Court decisions of the 1960s that established the one-person, one-vote principle, a number of states have shifted redistricting of state legislative district lines from the legislature to a board or commission. There are pros and cons to removing the process from the traditional legislative process to a commission. Reformers often mistakenly assume that commissions will be less partisan than legislatures when conducting redistricting but that depends largely on the design of the board or commission.

NCSL has categorized the commissions as either having primary responsibility for redistricting, serving in an advisory capacity, or operating as a back-up commission in cases where the legislature does not meet its deadline. All states not represented in the tables below draw congressional districts through state legislative authority.

Eight states have a commission with primary responsibility for drawing a plan for congressional districts; this number will rise to nine if Montana has two congressional seats after the next census. Six states have an advisory commission that may assist the legislature with drawing the district lines and two states have a backup commission that will make the decision if the legislature is unable to agree. Also see below for Iowa's redistricting plan, which is distinct from the other categories.

Also, check out:

 

Commissions with Primary Responsibility for Drawing a Plan for Congressional Districts

State

Number of Members

Details

Arizona

 

Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1

5

Name: Independent Redistricting Commission

Selection Requirements: The commission on appellate court appointees creates a pool of 25 nominees, ten from each of the two largest parties and five not from either of the two largest parties. The highest ranking officer of the house appoints one from the pool, then the minority leader of the house appoints one, then the highest ranking officer of the senate appoints one, then the minority leader of the senate appoints one. These four appoint a fifth from the pool, not a member of any party already represented on the commission, as chair. If the four deadlock, the commission on appellate court appointments appoints the chair.

Colorado

Colo. Const. art. V, §§ 44-44.6, as amended Nov. 6, 2018

12 

Name: Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission

Selection Requirements: A panel of three retired justices or judges from the Colorado Supreme Court or the Colorado Court of Appeals of differing party affiliation will randomly select by lot 300 applicants from amongst all applicants who met the qualification requirements from each of the two largest political parties and 450 who are not affiliated with any political party. From these pools, the panel will select 50 from each pool based on their merit. From these pools, the panel will choose by lot two commissioners from each of the largest two parties and two who are unaffiliated. The majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate each select a pool of ten candidates from all qualified applicants who are associated with the two largest political parties. The panel of judges selects one commissioner from each legislative leader’s pool and two commissioners from the pool of unaffiliated applicants selected earlier. Geographic distribution based on congressional districts and a final selection of four commissioners from each of the two largest parties and four unaffiliated commissioners is required.

California

Cal. Const. Article XXI

Cal. Gov. Code §§ 8251-8253.6 

 

14

Name: Citizen’s Redistricting Commission

Selection Requirements:  The commission must include 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 4 members from neither party.  Government auditors are to select 60 registered voters from an applicant pool.  Legislative leaders can reduce the pool; the auditors then are to pick eight commission members by lottery, and those commissioners pick six additional members for 14 total.  For approval district boundaries need votes from three Democratic commissioners, three Republican commissioners, and three commissioners from neither party.

Hawaii

 

Hawaii Const. art. IV

9

Name: Reapportionment Commission

Selection Requirements: President of the Senate selects two. Speaker of the House selects two. The minority leader in both the house and senate party each select one of their number. Those two each select one. These eight select the ninth member, who is the chair. No commission member may run for the legislature in the two elections following redistricting.

Idaho

 

Idaho Const. art. III, § 2

6

Name: Commission for Reapportionment

Selection Requirements: Leaders of two largest political parties in each house of the legislature each designate one member; chairs of the two parties whose candidates for governor received the most votes in the last election each designate one member. No member may be an elected or appointed official in the state at the time of designation.

Montana*

Mont. Const. art. V, § 14

5

Name: Commission

Selection Requirements: Majority and minority leaders of both houses of the Legislature each select one member. Those four select a fifth, who is the chair. Members cannot be public officials. Members cannot run for public office in the two years after the completion of redistricting.

Michigan

Mich. Const. Art. IV, § 6, as amended Nov. 6, 2018

13

Name: Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

Selection Requirements: The Secretary of State makes applications to become a commissioner available to the public, including mailing to 10,000 Michigan residents at random. The Secretary would then randomly select 60 applicants from each pool affiliating with the two major parties and 80 from the pool of those who are unaffiliated. These pools would be submitted to the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, the Speaker of the House and the House Minority Leader, and each legislative leader is allowed to strike five applicants from any pool or pools. The Secretary would then randomly draw the names of four applicants from the pools affiliated with the two major parties, and five from the unaffiliated pool.

New Jersey

 

N.J. Const. art. II, § II

13

Name: New Jersey Redistricting Commission

Selection Requirements: The majority and minority leaders in each legislative chamber and the chairs of the state's two major political parties each choose two commissioners, none of whom may be a congressional member or employee. Those 12 commissioners then choose a 13th who has not held any public or party office in New Jersey within the last five years. If the 12 commissioners are not able to select a 13th member to serve as chair, they will present two names to the state Supreme Court, which will choose the chair.

Washington

 

Wash. Const. art. II, § 43

5

Name: Commission

Selection Requirements: The majority and minority party leaders in each legislative chamber each select one registered voter to serve as commissioner, and those four commissioners choose a nonvoting fifth commissioner to serve as chair.

* NOTE: Montana currently has just one congressional district, so the commission is not used
 
Advisory Commissions

State

Number of Members

Details

Maine

 

Me. Const. art. IV, pt. 3, § 1-A

 

Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 1206

15

Name: Apportionment Commission

Selection Requirements: Speaker of the House appoints three. House minority leader appoints three. President of the Senate appoints two. Senate minority leader appoints two. Chairs of two major political parties each choose one. The members from the two parties represented on the commission each appoint a public member, and the two public members choose a third public member.

New York

N.Y. Const. art. III, § 5b, as added Nov. 4, 2014

 

NOTE: this commission was established to begin in the 2020 cycle, by a 2014 referendum, Proposal 1

10

Name: Independent Redistricting Commission

Selection Requirements: Each of the four legislative leaders appoints two members; the original eight members select two additional members. Legislators and other elected officials are prohibited from serving. If plans submitted by the commission are rejected by the legislature twice, the legislature will amend it as necessary.

Rhode Island

 

2011 R.I. Laws ch. 106, § 1

2011 R.I. Laws ch. 100, § 1

18

Name: Reapportionment Commission

Selection Requirements: The majority leader of both the house and the senate chose 4 members of the legislature and 3 who are not. The senate and house minority leaders each choose 2 who are not members of the legislature.

Utah

Utah Code § 20A-19-201, as added Nov. 6, 2018

 

Proposition 4, passed in Nov. 2018

7

Name: Utah Independent Redistricting Commission

Selection Requirements: Commissioners are appointed, one each, by the governor, the president of the Utah Senate, the speaker of the Utah House, the leader of the largest minority political party in the Utah Senate, the leader of the largest minority political party in the Utah House, Utah Senate and House leadership of the political party that is the majority party in the Utah Senate, and Utah Senate and House leadership of the political party that is the largest minority party in the Utah Senate.

 

Note that the Legislature may enact or reject a commission-recommended plan. If it chooses to reject a commission-recommended plan, any plan developed by the legislature must be reviewed by the commission for adherence to Utah-specific standards and a report on why the legislature chose to reject the commission’s plan and adopt a different one must be made public.

Virginia

 

Exec. Order No. 31 (2011)

11

Name: Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting

Selection Requirements: Governor created an advisory commission in 2011 by executive order. The commission is designed to get public input and to recommend district lines to the legislature, which may adopt, modify, or ignore the commission's proposals. Governor chooses 5 citizens of each majority party who have not held elected office in last 5 years, are not employees of Congress or the state legislature. Governor will also select the chair who is not identifiable with any political party.

 

Backup Commissions

State

Number of Members

Details

Connecticut

Conn. Const. art. III, § 6, amend. XXVI(b)

9

Name: Commission

Selection Requirements: President pro tem of the Senate, Senate minority leader, speaker of the House, and House minority leader each select two; these eight must select the ninth within 30 days.

Indiana

 

Ind. Code § 3-3-2-2

5

Name: Redistricting Commission

Selection Requirements: The commission is made up of the speaker of the house, president pro tem of the senate, the chair of the redistricting committee from each legislative chamber, and a state legislator nominated by the governor.

Ohio

 

Ohio Rev. Code § 103.51

 

Note: this commission only provides a map if the legislature is unable to adopt a plan with significant bipartisan support, as outlined in a successful 2018 ballot measure.

                  7

Name: Ohio Redistricting Commission

Selection Requirements: Board consists of the governor, auditor, secretary of state, and four people appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the General Assembly.

 

 

Other

Iowa

  Iowa conducts redistricting unlike any other state. The Iowa system does not put the task in the hands of a commission, but rather the legislature does vote on the plans. Nonpartisan legislative staff develop maps for the Iowa House and Senate as well as U.S. House districts without any political or election data including the addresses of incumbents. This is different from all other states. For a detailed description of the Iowa system click here.
 

About This NCSL Project

Redistricting is the process of redrawing state legislative and congressional district boundaries every 10 years by state legislatures following the decennial U.S. Census. NCSL helps prepare legislatures and others for the redistricting cycle with comprehensive information on redistricting law, technology and process. NCSL collects data and information on new legislative and congressional districts.


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