Redistricting commission

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Congressional redistricting methods by state after the 2010 census:
  State legislatures control redistricting
  Commissions control redistricting
  Nonpartisan staff develop the maps, which are then voted on by the state legislature
  No redistricting due to having only one congressional district
In 2021 Colorado, Michigan, and Missouri will also use commissions

In the United States, a redistricting commission is a body, other than the usual state legislative bodies, established to draw electoral district boundaries. Generally the intent is to avoid gerrymandering, or at least the appearance of gerrymandering, by specifying a nonpartisan or bipartisan body to comprise the commission drawing district boundaries.

Nonpartisan or bipartisan commissions as of 2010[edit]

Currently, 21 U.S. states have some form of non-partisan or bipartisan redistricting commission.[1] Of these 21 states, 13 use redistricting commissions to exclusively draw electoral district boundaries (see below).[1] A 14th state, Iowa, uses a special redistricting process that uses neither the state legislature nor an independent redistricting commission to draw electoral district boundaries (see below).

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission that redistricting commissions such as Arizona's, whose redistricting commission process is independent of the state legislature, were constitutional.[2]

Table key

For purposes of these tables:

  • Bipartisan means a substantial majority of the commission's membership is reserved for members of the two major U.S. political parties.
  • Non-partisan means that either, a) the partisan makeup of the commission is not specified beforehand, or b) a substantial portion (i.e. more than one) of the membership of the commission is reserved for political independents or members of so-called third parties.
States currently with commissions or non-legislature systems for redistricting
Type State & commission Commission jurisdiction Commission type & voting No. of members Member selection criteria & process[1] Legal authority
Commissions responsible for congressional & legislative redistricting
Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission Congressional & legislative districts Bipartisan;
5 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. Arizona Constitution
Article 4, pt. 2, § 1[3]
California Citizens Redistricting Commission Congressional, legislative, BoE districts Non-partisan;
super-majority (majority of each group) needed
14 The commission was established in 2010 and consists of 14 members: 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 4 members from neither party. Government auditors select 60 registered voters from an applicant pool. Legislative leaders can reduce the pool; the auditors then pick 8 commission members by lottery, and those commissioners pick six additional members for the 14 total. For approval, district boundaries need votes from 3 Democratic commissioners, 3 Republican commissioners, and 3 commissioners from neither party. California Constitution
Article XXI[4]
Hawaii Congressional & legislative districts Bipartisan;
9 No commission member may run for the legislature in the two elections following redistricting. President of the Senate selects two; Speaker of the House selects two. Members of each house belonging to the party or parties different from that of the president or the speaker shall designate one of their number for each house, and the two so designated shall each select two [more?] members of the commission. These eight select the ninth member, who is the chair. Hawaii Constitution
Article IV[5]
Idaho Congressional & legislative districts Bipartisan;
2/3 super-majority required
6 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. Idaho Constitution
Article III, § 2[6]
Montana Legislative & congressional districts Bipartisan;
5 No member may be a public employee or official; members cannot run for public office in the two years after the completion of redistricting. Majority and minority leaders of both houses of the Legislature each select one member; those four select a fifth, who is the chair of the commission. Montana Constitution
Article IV, § 14[7]
New Jersey Redistricting Commission (Congressional) & Apportionment Commission (Legislative) Congressional & legislative districts Bipartisan;
majority rules
10 (or 11)
Redistricting Commission: The commission has 13 members. The President of the Senate and Assembly Speaker each name two members; the minority leaders of both houses each name two members; and the state's Democratic and Republican party chairpersons each name two members. The 12 members then select a 13th "tie-breaking" member to chair the commission; if they cannot agree on the 13th member, then each party submits a name to the state's Supreme Court, which then chooses one of the submissions as the 13th member.
Apportionment Commission: The chairs of the two major parties each select five members. If these 10 members cannot develop a plan in the allotted time, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court will appoint an 11th member.
New Jersey Constitution
Article II, Sec. II[8] & Article IV, Sec. III[9]
Washington Redistricting Commission Congressional & legislative districts Bipartisan;
majority (of 4) rules
(only 4 voting)
No elected official and no person elected to legislative district, county, or state political party office may serve on the commission. Majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate each select one member. These four select a non-voting fifth member to chair the commission. If they fail to do so by January 31, the state Supreme Court will select the fifth member within five days. No commission member may be a public official. Washington Constitution
Article II, § 43[10]
Commissions responsible for legislative redistricting only
Alaska Legislative districts Non-partisan;
5 No member may be a public employee or official. Governor appoints two; president of the Senate appoints one; speaker of the House appoints one; chief justice of the Supreme Court appoints one. At least one member must be a resident of each judicial district. Alaska Constitution
Article 6[11]
Arkansas Legislative districts Non-partisan;
3 Commission consists of the state's governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. Arkansas Constitution
Article 6[12]
Colorado Legislative districts Non-partisan;
Colorado Supreme Court must approve
11 Legislature selects four: (speaker of the House; House minority leader; Senate majority and minority leaders; or their delegates). Governor selects three. Judiciary selects four. Maximum of four from the legislature. Each congressional district must have at least one person, but no more than two people representing it on the commission. At least one member must live west of the Continental Divide. Colorado Constitution
Article 5, § 48[13]
Missouri Legislative districts Bipartisan;
super-majorities required
Senate: 10
House: 18
No commission member may hold office in the legislature for four years after redistricting. There are two separate redistricting committees, one for each chamber of the legislature. 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. Missouri Constitution
Article III, § 2[14] & § 7[15]
Ohio Legislative districts Non-partisan;
majority rules
5 Board consists of the governor, auditor, secretary of state, and two people selected by the legislative leaders of each major political party. Ohio Constitution
Article XI, § 1[16]
Pennsylvania Legislative districts Bipartisan;
majority rules
5 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. Pennsylvania Constitution
Article II, § 17[17]

Iowa is a special case:

Redistricting process for Iowa
State Redistricting jurisdiction Redistricting type Redistricting process[1] Legal authority
Iowa Congressional & legislative districts Non-partisan Iowa conducts redistricting unlike any other state. The Iowa system does not put the task in the hands of a commission, but rather non-partisan 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). A 5-person advisory commission is also formed. This is different from all other states.[1] The redistricting plans from the non-partisan legislative staff are then presented to the Iowa legislature for a straight "Up" or "Down" vote; if the Legislature rejects the redistricting plans, the process starts over. (Eventually, the Iowa Supreme Court will enter the process if the Legislature fails to adopt a plan three times.) Detailed descriptions of the Iowa system are available from the Iowa legislature.[18][19] Iowa Constitution
Article III, § 37,[20] and
Article III, § 34, § 35, § 36 & § 38[20]

Additionally, Maine and Vermont use advisory committees for redistricting.[1] Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas have backup redistricting commissions, if efforts at redistricting via the usual legislative process fail.[1]

2021 redistricting[edit]

In 2021, following the 2020 census, multiple states will begin using new, non-partisan commissions or systems to redraw their legislative and/or congressional districts

States with planned new or changed systems for redistricting
Type State Commission jurisdiction Commission type No. of members Appointment procedures and process Ballot name
Colorado Congressional districts Non-partisan 12 4 Republicans, 4 Democrats, 4 unaffiliated voters; every congressional district will be represented; half will be chosen randomly; half will be chosen by a panel of judges considering factors such as gender, geography, ethnicity

District boundaries will be drawn by independent legislative staff.

To approve a new map, eight of the 12 members must vote in favor of it, including at least 2 unaffiliated members.[21]

Amendment Y (2018)
Legislative districts Non-partisan 12 4 Republicans, 4 Democrats, 4 unaffiliated voters; every congressional district will be represented; half will be chosen randomly; half will be chosen by a panel of judges considering factors such as gender, geography, ethnicity

District boundaries will be drawn by independent legislative staff.

To approve a new map, eight of the 12 members must vote in favor of it, including at least 2 unaffiliated members.[21]

Amendment Z (2018)
Michigan Congressional and legislative districts Non-partisan 13 4 Republicans, 4 Democrats, and 5 members who identify with neither party; no member can be a partisan officeholder, an employee of such an officeholder, or a lobbyist

Citizens can apply, and the Secretary of State picks 200 at random, with party and geographic diversity. Republican and Democratic leaders in the Michigan House and Senate can each reject five names, up to 20 in total. Then the Secretary of State picks the 13 members at random.[22] The commission will have final say over the entire process of redistricting.[23]

Proposal 2 (2018)
Utah Congressional, legislative, and state school board districts Non-partisan 7 1 member appointed by the governor; 3 appointed by the Republican leaders of the Utah legislature, 3 appointed by the Democratic leaders of the legislature; members cannot have participated in certain political activities for 4 or 5 years prior to their appointment

The commission is required to hold open, public meetings and to create maps that meet the standards set out in Proposition 4. They would then send their proposal(s) to the state legislature, which can choose to accept or reject the map(s). The chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court will recommend one or more maps to the legislature. The legislature is still allowed to propose maps, but the commission retains the right to review them, and voters could sue to block the implementation of a plan in violation of Prop 4's requirements.[24][25]

Proposition 4 (2018)
Non-commission processes
Ohio Congressional districts Bipartisan a) entire legislature

b) 7-member commission

Redistricted maps for congressional districts will require support of 60% of members in both the Ohio House and Senate, including 1/2 of members in the minority party.

If the legislature cannot agree, a 7-member commission including the governor, auditor, secretary of state, and 4 legislators (2 from each party), will take responsibility.

Should that commission be unable to reach an agreement, the legislature resumes control of the process, but will have lower thresholds for passing a plan (albeit with stricter rules).[26]

Issue 1 (2018)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "2009 Redistricting Commission Table". National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). June 28, 2008. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  2. ^ "ARIZONA STATE LEGISLATURE v. ARIZONA INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION ET AL" (pdf). Supreme Court of the United States. June 29, 2015. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  3. ^ "Arizona State Legislature". Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  7. ^ "Constitution of Montana -- Article V -- THE LEGISLATURE – Section 14". Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  10. ^ "Washington State Constitution". Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  11. ^ "Alaska Constitution - Article 6 - Legislative Apportionment". Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  12. ^ "Constitution of the State of Arkansas of 1874" (pdf). pp. 38–39. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  13. ^ "Colo. Const. Art. V, Section 48 - COLORADO REVISED STATUTES". Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  14. ^ "Missouri Constitution Article III LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT Section 2". Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  15. ^ "Missouri Constitution Article III LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT Section 7". Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  16. ^ "The Ohio Constitution [The 1851 Constitution with Amendments to 2011]". Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  17. ^ "Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania". Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  18. ^ "The Iowa Legislature - Iowa Redistricting - About Redistricting in Iowa". The Iowa Legislature. Retrieved September 7, 2013.
  19. ^ "LEGISLATIVE GUIDE TO REDISTRICTING IN IOWA" (pdf). The Iowa Legislature. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  20. ^ a b "Constitution of the State of Iowa" (PDF). Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Colorado election: Amendments Y and Z pass, changing the way Colorado does redistricting". Coloradoan. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  22. ^ Egan, Paul (September 21, 2018). "Proposal 2 in Michigan: Pros and cons, what gerrymandering is". Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  23. ^ "Michigan voters approve anti-gerrymandering Proposal 2". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  24. ^ "A voter's guide to Proposition 4: redistricting in Utah". KSLNewsRadio. November 2, 2018. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  25. ^ "They've wiped out Prop 2 and Prop 3, but lawmakers say Utah's anti-gerrymandering initiative may survive — for now". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  26. ^ "Ohio voters just approved Issue 1 to curb gerrymandering in Congress". Retrieved February 20, 2019.