A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday on redistricting lawsuits in Wisconsin and Maryland comes as several states already are considering changes to the criteria and processes that will be used to draw legislative districts after the 2020 Census.
In most places, the state legislature and governor are responsible for redistricting U.S. House and state legislative seats. More than a dozen states primarily use boards or commissions to redraw state legislative districts, and about a half-dozen do so for congressional districts.
Here’s a look at proposed redistricting measures that already have been — or are likely to be — placed on ballots this year:
Issues: Two proposed constitutional amendments placed on the Nov. 6 ballot by the state Legislature affecting congressional and state legislative redistricting.
Status quo: Congress: four Republicans, three Democrats. State Senate: 18 Republicans, 16 Democrats, one independent. State House: 36 Democrats, 29 Republicans.
Current process: For Congress, the state Legislature passes a redistricting plan by a majority vote, subject to a gubernatorial veto. For the Legislature, House and Senate districts are drawn by an 11-member commission consisting of four bipartisan legislative appointees, three gubernatorial appointees and four members chosen by the chief justice. Maps are automatically submitted to the state Supreme Court for review and, if rejected, the commission is given another chance to draw maps.
Proposed process: For both Congress and state legislative chambers, a 12-person commission — consisting of four Republicans, four Democrats and four independents — would be selected from a pool of applicants. Half would be chosen randomly and the rest by a judicial panel. Nonpartisan legislative staff would draft proposed maps for the commission’s approval, which would require at least eight votes including two from independents. The state Supreme Court then would review the maps to determine whether legal criteria were followed. If not, legislative staff would draft a new plan for the commission to submit to the court.
Proposed criteria: Districts would have to be nearly equal in population, compact and as much as possible preserve communities of interest such as racial and ethnic groups and whole cities and counties. The commission also would have to “maximize the number of politically competitive districts.”