NCSL Online Redistricting Seminar: Jan. 6-8, 2021


NCSL's redistricting seminars for the 2020 cycle have concluded. This webpage is being maintained for informational purposes only.

Note: In accordance with federal, state and local public health guidance, the in-person redistricting seminar previously scheduled for January 2021 in Washington, D.C. has been replaced with a virtual seminar. A future in-person meeting may be scheduled in late spring, pending public health guidance.

If you are a legislator, legislative staffer, a commissioner, a commission staffer, an outside advocate or just an interested member of the public, this virtual seminar is for you.

In three days, NCSL will deliver knowledge and practical instruction that you can customize for your state and your role in the process. 

Expect answers to:  

  • What’s the legal landscape for redistricting?
  • What technology is available for redistricting?
  • What data are useful to use for redistricting?
  • How do states balance various principles and priorities when they redistrict?
  • How do you involve the public in the process?

Interested in sponsoring this meeting? Contact Ben Williams.

The cost to attend the seminar is $295 for legislators, legislative staff, redistricting commissioners and commission staff, and $395 for members of the public. You can register here

The agenda can be found below. All times listed are Eastern Standard Time (EST). 

Ten of the sessions have been approved for CLE credit by the Colorado Supreme Court. They are noted below in parentheses. Please note that the Friday morning "Madisonian Case Study" credits may only be received if attending live. 

Press inquiries may be directed to the Press Room. 


Wednesday, Jan. 6

10:30 - 11 a.m.

Introductory Remarks

Welcome to the seminar! We’ll walk you through the agenda and set the table for the next three days.

11 a.m. - noon

Beginner Session: Redistricting 101 (1 CLE)

If you’re new to redistricting or need a refresher, this session is for you. Our speakers will touch on the ins and outs of redistricting law, policy and procedures, setting a foundation upon which to build further expertise as the seminar continues.


Speaker: Michael Stewart, Research Division, Nevada

Speaker: Gina Wright, Reapportionment Office, Georgia

11 a.m. - noon

Advanced Session: How the 2020 Cycle Will Be Different (1 CLE)

This session is for folks gearing up for their second, third or fourth redistricting cycle. The 2010s was a decade like no other, with key changes in state policies and federal court rulings. Hear experts walk through what’s new for 2021 and how recent trends will carry on in the coming years.


Speaker: Jeff Wice, special counsel, New York State Assembly

Speaker: Frank Strigari, chief legal counsel, Ohio Senate

12:15 - 1:15 p.m.

The Census and Your Dataset

At its core, redistricting is a question of data. A workable dataset is key to completing this constitutionally mandated task. Hear about what types of data go into that dataset, from census files to supplemental sources—and how to avoid data management pitfalls.


Speaker: James Whitehorne, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington D.C.

Speaker: Karin Mac Donald, California Statewide Database, California

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Redistricting: Left, Right and Center (1 CLE)

Redistricting is the most powerful political act states undertake. Tune in as partisan experts from the left and right discuss what’s legal, what’s fair, what’s going to happen as states redraw the lines this time, and policy options states can consider right now.


Moderator: Wendy Underhill, director, Elections & Redistricting, NCSL

Speaker: Marc Elias, Perkins Coie, Washington D.C.

Speaker: Mark Braden, BakerHostetler, Washington D.C.

2:45 - 3:45 p.m.

All Things Criteria (1 CLE)

In addition to federal principles (“one person, one vote” and prohibitions on racial discrimination), all 50 states have designated criteria for how districts are drawn. Some are old, while some are new this cycle. Either way, failing to comply with them can result in litigation. Experts will describe the criteria, how they are defined and offer tips on balancing conflicts between them.


Moderator: Jerry Barry, Legislative Legal Services, Colorado

Speaker: Joe Kreye, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin

Speaker: Staci Duros, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin

Speaker: Michael Gallagher, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin

4 - 5 p.m.

Optional: Ask Today's Experts

Didn’t get to ask our speakers a question? Thought of a question after the session ended? Have a real-life concern that could use a personal response? This is your chance to engage directly with experts in an open-ended Q&A.

4:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Optional: The Vendors Speak

Still deciding which software vendor to use for your upcoming redistricting? Tune in to see and hear the major vendors talk about the advantages of their products, with the opportunity to ask questions pertinent to your state.


Moderator: Kim Brace, Election Data Services

Speaker: Richard Leadbeater, Esri

Speaker: Tracy Horgan, Maptitude for Redistricting

Speaker: Fred Hejazi, Citygate GIS

Speaker: Ella Li, ZillionInfo


Thursday, Jan. 7

10 - 11 a.m.

Optional: Virtual Yoga

Redistricting is stressful. Start your day doing something that isn’t! A yogi (who’s day job is as the clerk of the New Hampshire Senate) will guide us through poses anyone can do, regardless of experience.


Instructor: Tammy Wright, clerk of the Senate, New Hampshire

10 - 11 a.m.

Optional: How to Effectively Negotiate

The give and take of redistricting is complicated, and making your best case could be the key to getting your desired outcome adopted in the final map. Learn from NCSL’s expert, Curt Stedron, on how to successfully advocate for your goals in a mutually agreeable way.


Speaker: Curt Stedron, director of Legislative Training, NCSL

11 a.m. - noon

Race in Redistricting: The Voting Rights Act and the Constitution (1 CLE)

Federal law on using race in redistricting comes from two sources—and they conflict. The Voting Rights Act mandates the use of race in some cases, while the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution prohibits race as a primary rationale for designing a redistricting plan. Our panelists will show how to thread the needle on these seemingly irreconcilable mandates.


Moderator: Michelle Davis, senior policy analyst, Maryland

Speaker: Christian Grose, University of Southern California, California

Speaker: Jason Torchinsky, Holtzman Vogel LLP, Virginia

12:15 - 1:15 p.m.

Evaluating Maps with Tests and Samples (1 CLE)

What is a “good” map? While there may be no right answer to that question, there are tools available to help you understand the key aspects of a redistricting plan.  A mathematician and an attorney will describe these tools and what they can do (and what they can’t).


Speaker: Moon Duchin, Tufts University, Massachusetts

Speaker: Patrick Lewis, BakerHostetler, Ohio

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Fundamentals of Mapdrawing Session

Learn what comes first when sitting down to draw a map: Is it to start with existing district boundaries? Or to know where majority-minority districts can be drawn? What’s next? Watch as experienced redistricters instruct technicians on how to draw the lines. Attendees can offer suggestions as well.


Speaker: Tracy Horgan, Caliper/Maptitude

Speaker: Richard Leadbeater, Esri

Speaker: Fred Hejazi, Citygate GIS

Speaker: Paul Mitchell, Redistricting Partners

Speaker: Kim Brace, Election Data Services

Speaker: Clark Bensen, Polidata

2:45 - 3:45 p.m.

Optional: Audit the Class

Ever wish you could go to college and learn without term papers or exams? In this hour, hear from academics as they walk through their latest research related to redistricting. We’ll learn about algorithms that are intended to measure VRA compliance and more.


Moderator: Ben Williams, policy specialist, Elections and Redistricting, NCSL

Speaker: Sam Hirsch, Jenner & Block LLP

Speaker: Moon Duchin, Tufts University, Massachusetts

Speaker: Peter Wattson, consultant, Minnesota

2:45 - 3:45 p.m.

Optional: GIS and the Data Handoff

Redistricting is all about geography—and so are elections. Geographic information systems (GIS) are used to create redistricting maps, but when those files are turned into words in a bill and sent to election officials (who may not have GIS capabilities anyway), accuracy and efficiency can be “lost in translation.” Is there a fix?


Moderator/Speaker: Blake Esselstyn, North Carolina

Speaker: Veronica Degraffenreid, Pennsylvania

Speaker: Cathy Darling Allen, California

4 p.m.

Optional: Democratic and Republican Breakouts

Democrats and Republicans may want to spend time together thinking about redistricting ahead. To get log-in information for these ancillary events:

  • Republicans, please contact Sonja Kiefer at the National Republican Redistricting Trust
  • Democrats, please contact Jeff Wice at the National Democratic Redistricting Committee

8 - 9:30 p.m.

Optional: Trivia Night

Have fun with your fellow conference members with a friendly game of trivia. NCSL Executive Director Tim Storey will be our grand master of trivia. The link will be made available on Thursday.

Friday, Jan. 8

10 a.m. - noon

Optional: A Madisonian Case Study (Live session only) (2 CLE)

Experience the founders’ dilemma for yourself with an interactive discussion led by Harvard’s Professor David Moss. By stepping into the shoes of your predecessors—and facing the decisions they faced—you’ll see both the past and the present in a whole new light.


Note: This session will not be recorded, so plan to be part of the action.


Lecturer: David Moss, Harvard Business School, Massachusetts

12:15 - 1:15 p.m.

Developing a Dialogue: Public Input and Legislative Outreach (1 CLE)

Redistricting is about people and democracy, and the people increasingly want a say in the process. Hear examples from states on how they’re soliciting public input and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.


Moderator: Ben Williams, policy specialist, Elections and Redistricting, NCSL

Speaker: Fred McBride, Redistricting & Voting Rights Policy Specialist, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under law

Speaker: Quyen Do, Legislative Staff, Oklahoma House

Speaker Keith Beall, Legislative Staff, Oklahoma Senate

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Courts, Policy and the Future of Redistricting (1 CLE)

The times they are a-changin’. While predicting the future is tricky business, our experts will look at the legal trends from the 2010s and walk you through how things may look in 2025, 2030 and beyond.


Moderator: Rebecca Green, William & Mary Law School, Virginia

Speaker: Michael Li, The Brennan Center, New York

Speaker: Walter Olson, Cato Institute, Washington D.C.

2:45 - 3:45 p.m.

Commissions: The Next Frontier? (Concurrent Session)

For the first time in U.S. history, a majority of states will have some kind of redistricting commission (adding in those with primary responsibility and advisory and back-up commissions). No surprise: no two commissions are alike. Colleagues from commission states will discuss their positives and negatives, and offer thoughts on commission structures.


Speaker: Amanda King, Colorado Legislative Council, Colorado

Speaker: Scott Bedke, Speaker of the House (Idaho) and NCSL’s Vice President

Speaker: Ned Foley, The Ohio State University

2:45 - 3:45 p.m.

Privilege, Confidentiality and Transparency (Concurrent Session) (1 CLE)

It’s no secret that most states are sued over their redistricting plans. What are the laws around legislative privilege and confidentiality? Do those privileges conflict with open records or sunshine laws? Our speakers will walk you through what’s protected, what isn’t and what to expect when litigation ensues. Expect case studies.


Speaker: Jon Heining, general counsel and NCSL’s Immediate Past Staff Chair, Texas

4 - 4:45 p.m.

Optional: Ask Today's Experts

Didn’t get to ask our speakers a question? Thought of a question after the session ended? Have a real-life concern that could use a personal response? This is your chance to engage directly with experts in an open-ended Q&A.

4:45 - 5 p.m.

Meeting Wrap-up

We’ll share meeting take-aways and thoughts on where to go from here as states embark on redistricting!