In the United States of America, 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. However, a number of these commissions, much like some state boards of election, are set up to give the majority party more seats on the commission, or effective control of the commission.
Current nonpartisan or bipartisan commissionsEdit
Currently, 21 U.S. states have some form of non-partisan or bipartisan redistricting commission. Of these 21 states, 13 use redistricting commissions to exclusively draw electoral district boundaries (see below). 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.
Table Key – For purposes of this table:
- 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.
|State & Commission||Commission Jurisdiction||Commission Type & Voting||# of
|Member Selection Criteria & Process||Legal Authority|
|Commissions Responsible for Congressional & Legislative Redistricting:|
|Arizona 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
|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|
|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|
|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
|Montana||Legislative districts (& Congressional [currently moot])||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
|New Jersey Redistricting Commission (Congressional) & Apportionment Commission (Legislative)||Congressional & Legislative districts||Bipartisan;
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 & Article IV, Sec. III
|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. These four select a non-voting fifth to chair the commission. If they fail to do so by January 1, 2001, the state Supreme Court will select the fifth by February 5, 2001. No commission member may be a public official.||Washington Constitution|
Article II, § 43
|Commissions Responsible for Legislative Redistricting only:|
|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|
|3||Commission consists of the state's Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General.||Arkansas Constitution|
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 four people representing it on the commission. At least one member must live west of the Continental Divide.||Colorado Constitution|
Article 5, § 48
|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 & § 7
|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
|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
Iowa is a special case:
|State||Redistricting Jurisdiction||Redistricting Type||Redistricting Process||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. 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.||Iowa Constitution|
Article III, § 37, and
Article III, § 34, § 35, § 36 & § 38
Additionally, Maine and Vermont use advisory committees for redistricting. Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas use backup redistricting commissions, if efforts at redistricting via the usual legislative process fail.
2018 referenda and initiativesEdit
Several states had ballot measures in 2018 changing their redistricting processes.
In 2018, Ohio voters approved State Issue 1 which changed how the legislature conducts the drawing of lines. Starting in 2021, Any new maps would require three-fifths support in the state House and Senate, including support from at least half the members of the minority party.
If the legislature cannot agree on a map, a seven-member bipartisan commission would be assigned to draw new maps. Those maps would have to be approved with at least two votes from the minority party.
If the bipartisan commission fails, the legislature would be allowed to try to draw 10-year maps that earn support from one-third of the minority party or a four-year map with only majority support. 
Michigan Proposal 2 on the November 6, 2018 ballot would create a 13-member Citizen's Redistricting Commission. The commission will be composed of 4 Republicans, 4 Democrats, and 5 members unaffiliated with either party. The proposal passed 61% to 39%.
Utah Proposition 4 on the November 6, 2018 ballot would create a 7-member redistricting commission that will propose new electoral districts for both congressional and legislative elections. It narrowly passed 50.34% to 49.66%.
Missouri Amendment 1 on the November 6, 2018 election would create the post of a non-partisan state demographer who would draw new district maps for approval by the two legislative committees. The amendment passed 62% to 38%.
The Colorado legislature approved two Amendments to be referred to the voters on November 6, 2018. Amendment Y would create a 12 member redistricting commission to draw districts for congressional seats; Amendment Z would do the same for legislative seats. Both amendments passed with over 70% voting in favor.
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- Ohio voters pass redistricting reform initiative
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