I - Reapportionment or Redistricting

Reapportionment or redistricting should be conducted in such a manner that no consideration is to be given to current incumbents or political parties. Redistricting is to be done in a non partisan manner. H.R.1, known as the For The People Act, passed by the House in 2020 and reintroduced in 2021, has a strong method of bringing this about which should be adopted by all states, with modifications if necessary, to fit each state. The model in the bill has a committee of 15 with five each from the two major parties and five more independent or unaffiliated. In order for a redistricting proposal to pass it would need a majority and at least one vote from each of the three groups. Currently, in 33 of the states the state legislature has the responsibility of redistricting whereas only ten states have commissions. The states are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Washington and New York with a hybrid system. There are many other provisions of the bill, some of which may be unconstitutional, which bring about a federalizing of election provisions reserved to the states. (H.R.-1 and subsequent bills died in the Senate.) See  Note 3 The legislature in each state should not make redistricting decisions, but it should be turned over to an independent nonpartisan commission. "Voters are supposed to choose candidates. But when lawmakers draw district lines to entrench one party’s political power, some votes count more than others." We agree with The Brennan Center's solution which calls for: "independent redistricting commissions in every state and legal protections against extreme gerrymandering."

There are four guidelines generally, though not universally accepted. Contiguity, the areas within a district should be contiguous to each other. Compactness, constituents, within a district, should live as near to one another as practicable. Community of interest, communities of interest should not be divided. Political boundaries should be respected. It should be expected to have political fairness.

Ideally the results of redistricting should approach the share of the vote that the statewide totals indicate. For example in California with an almost two to one vote advantage for the winning candidate the vote by congressional district was split 84% to 16%. An indication of possible gerrymandering. With their 53 Congressional Districts in 2020, California should show a fair share around 18 of those districts voting for Trump instead of seven, according to the state wide percentages. Biden would have won around 37 districts instead of 46 like they have. Eleven districts chose a Republican to represent them in Congress. Another six districts had a close enough vote that they could be considered swing districts bringing our number up to 17. The lower numbers could have demonstrated a strong anti-Trump sentiment among independent voters. Trump did not receive more than 59% of the vote in any of the Congressional Districts. On closer review, California does have a commission with strict guidelines as to the qualifications for membership and procedure. Go to Politico for up to date reapportionment results for 2022. Politico  

In Utah for another example, there are four Congressional Districts and their redistricting is handled by the legislature with an advisory committee. For the 2020 election the County with the most votes for the losing candidate was divided between three of the districts with the 4th district having the rest of the county. The vote was split at 58% to 38% in voting for the president yet all four of the districts voted for the statewide winning candidate, although the vote was close in one district which could be considered a swing district. In other words, to approach the statewide percentages, if they had drawn the 4th district within Salt Lake County and not dilute the influence by including a large part of Utah County. The statewide district percentage would then have been 75% to 25%, approaching the statewide percentage and as close as you could get. After the 2022 redistricting maps were drawn, there was very little change  to the map, it looked much the same as the old map. The old competitive district added areas that tended to vote for the winning candidate in 2020.

In Idaho, with only two CDs, the question has always been where do we draw the line in the Ada County, Boise area. Many censuses ago Northern Idaho was very much a Democrat area and Southern Idaho Republican. Currently Ada County has some Democrat strongholds and most of the rest of the state is Republican with at least two Democrat enclaves in Sun Valley and Pocatello. You could make one district in the Treasure Valley area around Boise as one district and the rest of the state another. The main factor against this is having far distant north Idaho in the same district as Southeast Idaho and because the state votes 70% Republican anyway, it wouldn’t change the outcome.

States also use the most recent Census numbers to draw boundaries for legislative districts for their state legislatures. Some consideration should be given to transportation and other ease of communication issues within legislative districts. In Idaho one of the guidelines is that the constituencies must be connected by a state or federal highway. This would address the transportation, communication, and compactness guideline. Idaho Legislative Districts, as drawn before, 7,8, and 32 do not meet this requirement. The 2021 redistricting commission changed the districts and solved most of the noted problems in the old map. Still existing problems are that one county from the old District 8 is still aligned with District 8 with some different counties. The counties on the eastern border are still connected though there are still no highways that connect them. (See note 1 for more information from a local personal perspective.)Notes  (Also Note 3 for information about HR-1) Note 3 

Go to  Idaho Redistricting 

Go to  Utah redistricting commission 

This site shows the status for each state's redistricting  process.

Category: National and State