Redistricting Commissions: State Legislative Plans

1/9/2020

redistricting map push-pins

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

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 legislative districts through state legislative authority.

Fourteen states have a commission with primary responsibility for drawing a plan for state legislative districts. Six states have an advisory commission that may assist the legislature with drawing the district lines and five states have a backup commission that will make the decision if the legislature is unable to agree. 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 State Legislative Districts

State

Number of Members

Details

Alaska

Alaska Const. art. 6, § 8

5

Name: Redistricting Board

Selection Requirements: Governor appoints two; then president of the Senate appoints one; then speaker of the House appoints one; then chief justice of the Supreme Court appoints one. At least one member must be a resident of each judicial district. No member may be a public employee or official.

Arizona

Ariz. Const. art. 4, 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.

Arkansas

Ark. Const. 1874, art. 8

3

Name: Board of Apportionment

Selection Requirements: Commission consists of the governor, secretary of state, and the attorney general

California

Cal. Const. Article XXI

Cal. Gov. Code §§ 8251-8253.6

 

 

14

Name: Citizen’s Redistricting Commission

Selection Requirements: With the Passage of Proposition 11 in 2008, the process of redrawing California's state legislative districts was removed from state legislative authority and given to a newly established 14 member commission.  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.

Colorado

Colo. Const. art. V, §§ 46-48.3, as amended Nov. 6, 2018

12

Name: Independent Legislative 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.

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.

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.

Missouri

Mo. Const. art. III, § 3(c), § 7, as amended Nov. 6, 2018

House: 18 Senate: 10

Name: Apportionment Commission

Selection Requirements: There are two separate redistricting committees. Governor picks one person from each list of two submitted by the two main political parties in each congressional district to form the house committee. Governor picks five people from two lists of 10 submitted by the two major political parties in the state to form the senate committee. No commission member may hold office in the legislature for four years after redistricting.

 

After the passage of Amendment 1 in 2018, a state demographer (chosen by a panel including the state auditor and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate), will draw maps for the legislative commissions to consider. The commissions can amend the maps provided by the demographer, but only if  70 percent of their members vote to do so. 

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.

New Jersey

N.J. Const. art. IV, § 3

13

Name: Apportionment Commission

Selection Requirements: The two parties getting the most votes in the last gubernatorial election each select five members. If the 10-member commission cannot agree, an eleventh member will be chosen by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court. 

Ohio

Ohio Const. art. XI, § 1

 

NOTE: this commission was established to begin in the 2020 cycle, by a 2015 Constitutional Amendment

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.

Pennsylvania

Pa. Const. art. II, § 17

5

Name: Reapportionment Commission

Selection Requirements: Majority and minority leaders of the legislative houses each select one member. These four select a fifth to chair. If they fail to do so within 45 days, a majority of the state Supreme Court will select the fifth member. The chair cannot be a public official.

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.

 

Advisory Commissions

State

Number of Members

Details

Maine

Me. Const. art. IV, pt. 3, § 1-A

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.

Vermont

Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 34A, § 1904

7

Name: Legislative Apportionment Board

Selection Requirements: Chief justice appoints the chair; governor appoints one member from each political party with at least 3 state legislators for six of the previous ten years; those parties each select one. Secretary of state is secretary of the board but does not vote. No commissioner may be a member or employee of the legislature.

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

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.

Illinois

Ill. Const. art. IV, § 3

8

Name: Legislative Redistricting Commission

Selection Requirements: President of the Senate, Senate minority leader, speaker of the House, and House minority leader each select two, one of whom is a legislator and the other is not. No more than four from the same party. If the commission fails to develop a plan by August 10, of the year ending in one, the state Supreme Court selects two persons not of the same political party, one of whom is chosen by lot to be the ninth member.

Mississippi

Miss. Const. art. 13, § 254

5

Name: Commission

Selection Requirements: Chief justice of Supreme Court is chair; attorney general, secretary of state, speaker of the House, president pro tem of the Senate

Oklahoma

Okla. Const. § V-11A

7

Name: Bipartisan Commission on Legislative Apportionment

Selection Requirements: The Lieutenant Governor is the nonvoting chair; the governor, senate majority leader, and house majority leader each choose 2, one republican and one democrat.

Texas

Tex. Const. art. 3, § 28

 

5

Name: Legislative Redistricting Board of Texas

Selection Requirements: The commission consists of the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the attorney general, the comptroller of public accounts and the commissioner of the General Land Office.

 

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.


For more information, contact Wendy Underhill, NCSL Staff Liaison.

Additional Resources