NCSL Redistricting Seminar: Providence, June 20-23, 2019


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

The first of NCSL's five Get Ready to Redistrict: Seminars for Practitioners and Others took place June 20-23, 2019, in Providence, R.I.

If you are a legislator, legislative staffer, commissioner, commission staffer, outside advocate or just an interested member of the public, these seminars are for you.

Didn't make it to Providence? We have four more seminars coming up!

Over 2½ days, NCSL will deliver knowledge and practical instruction you can customize for your state and role in the process.

Expect answers to questions including:  

  • What’s the legal landscape for redistricting?
  • What technology is available for redistricting?
  • What data is 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 these meetings (or this specific meeting)? Contact Henry Springer.

Here's what you missed:



Thursday, June 20, 2019

Pre-Con: The Census Session

Optional Bus Tour: See Providence Through a Redistricter's Eye

  • This was a street-level tour of Providence where they reviewed neighborhood maps and redistricting data. The video-equipped bus allowed us to display information on census blocks, block groups, census tracts and how neighborhoods are shown in census geography. This tour will helped bring redistricting to life.
  • Presented by Kimball Brace (Election Data Services, Virginia)

Friday, June 21, 2019

Deep Dive: The Census

  • Census data files are more complex than most people expect. Hear from experts at the U.S. Census Bureau on the data releases prepared for redistricters, and how to use them. Learn, too, about preparations for the 2020 census, privacy policies and the status of the citizenship question.
  • Bonus: Providence was the site of the census’ dry run in 2017. What was learned? 
  • Speaker: James Whitehorne (U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, D.C.)

Will Your State's Residents be Fully Counted?

Redistricting Basics

  • Redistricting processes vary from state to state, but they start from a common place: dividing the state into equal population districts while following federal law. This session focused on the fundamental elements of the redistricting process, including why and how states draw lines.
  • Speaker: Dr. Michael McDonald (Univeristy of Florida, Florida)

The Commission Option

  • An increasing, but still small, number of states are using a commission, often created by legislative action, to make their maps. Whether or not your state has a commission, legislators and legislative staff need to know how commissions vary across the nation, what options are available if they want to consider a commission, and how legislators and others work with the commission.  
  • A discussion with Suzanne Almeida (Common Cause, Washington, D.C.) and Frank Strigari (chief legal counsel, Ohio).

Lunch with Lessons from Redistricting Survivors

  • Veterans from previous redistricting cycles will share their best stories and top tips and answer questions.
  • A conversation with Stan Rosenberg (former Senate President, Massachusetts), Senator Mary Kiffmeyer (Minnesota), Gary Berner (Gary Berner Government Relations LLC, Connecticut), Jeff Wice (special counsel, New York) and Rachel Weiss (Montana Legislative Services Division, Montana).

Ready, Prep, Go: Getting a Redistricting Office Up and Running

  • All redistricting operations require staff, technology, data and other resources. We reviewed what you’ll need to run a smooth redistricting operation, and what work you can get started on now.
  • Speaker: Michelle Davis (senior policy analyst, Maryland)

Dealing with Data

  • The census provides baseline population numbers, but those are by no means the only data required to be successful at redistricting. Spatial, demographic and political data are all in the mix. Participants learned where to find the data you’ll need and how to put it to good use.
  • Speaker: Kimball Brace (Election Data Services, Virginia)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Redistricting Law: Where to Begin?

  • This introduction to redistricting law covers the constitutional, statutory and case law basics every legislator, staffer and interested observer should know before getting involved in drawing plans. 
  • Speaker: Clark Bensen (political consultant, Washington, D.C.)

A Decade of Key Supreme Court Redistricting Decisions

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has had redistricting on its docket every year this decade. We examine what the key rulings say about population bases, the Voting Rights Act and partisan gerrymandering. 
  • A panel with Richard Raile (Baker Hostetler, Washington, D.C.), Kareem Cryton (Southern Coalition for Social Justice, North Carolina) and Karen Garrett (Office of Legal Services, Tennessee).
  • Resource: Redistricting—Supreme Court Cases

Redistricting Action Moves to State Courts

  • A dozen states are still in court in 2019, and more cases are being heard under state “free and fair election clauses” than ever before. We look at the legal trends from this decade that may provide a glimpse of what’s to come.
  • Speaker: Ted Booth (general counsel, Mississippi)

Drawing Maps that Will Stand Up in Court

An Expert Talks Through Drawing a Map

  • Watch and listen as a crackerjack redistricter demonstrates his approach to drawing new maps. What considerations come first? Second? And when is a map complete?
  • Speaker: John Morgan (Applied Research Coordinates, Virginia)

Ready Players: Introduction to a Redistricting Simulation Exercise

  • Most of the participants took a role in a virtual mapmaking exercise and got real, hands on experience using a redistricting software. There were 9 groups and each group had different role for those different groups that have a stake in redistricting in the real world. 

For Those Who Don't Want to Make Maps

  • Drawing maps may be at the heart of redistricting, but there’s much more to the process. We focused on communications during the redistricting process (how to effectively engage, exchange or convey facts, ideas, concepts and other information) and learned how to incorporate stress relief and relaxation techniques into the workday.
  • Presentation by Mick Bullock (director of public affairs, NCSL) and a teaching of chair yoga/meditation from Tammy Wright (clerk of the Senate, New Hampshire).

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Redistricting Simulation Wrap-up

Simulation participants presented their final maps and explained their process in developing their map. Then, Michelle Davis, Peter Wattson, Jeff Wice and Clark Bensen asked questions a court would ask regarding a redistricting map and had participants defend their decisions.

The Public Wants a Role in Redistricting, Too

  • This cycle, the public will be more aware of, and engaged in, redistricting than ever before. Find out what states are doing to make it easier for people to offer their comments and submit their own maps for consideration.
  • A conversation with Michael Li (The Brennan Center, New York) and Representative Kevin Bratcher (Kentucky)

Translating New Maps for New Elections

  • Redistricting ends when maps are adopted, but that’s just the beginning for election officials. They must redraw precincts based on the new districts, a Herculean task. We examined how GIS can be employed to ensure accuracy in elections.
  • Presented by Tammy Patrick (Democracy Fund, Washington, D.C.)



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