Redistricting Debates

February 25, 2011 • Volume 21, Issue 8
Will new reforms limit gerrymandering?
By Kenneth Jost


State Auditor Elaine Howe (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
State Auditor Elaine Howe selects one of the first eight members of the bipartisan California Citizens Redistricting Commission on Nov. 18. Those eight then picked six more members. The commission will redraw state legislative and congressional districts in time for the 2012 elections. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The once-every-decade process of redrawing legislative and congressional districts is getting under way in state capitals around the country. To start, Sun Belt states will gain and Rust Belt states will lose seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. But win or lose, states have to redraw lines to make sure that legislative and congressional districts have equal populations and give fair opportunities to minority groups. The process is intensely political, with parties maneuvering for advantage and incumbents seeking to hold on to friendly territory. Republicans are in a good position after gaining control of legislatures in a majority of states last November. But demographic trends, especially the growth of Latino populations in some states, may limit the GOP's opportunities. In addition, California and Florida will be operating under new rules pushed by good-government groups that seek to limit “gerrymandering,” line-drawing for purely partisan reasons. After redistricting plans are completed, many will be challenged in court, where outcomes are difficult to predict.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Reapportionment, Redistricting, and Representation
Mar. 04, 2022  Redistricting Battles
Aug. 25, 2017  Redistricting Showdown
Feb. 25, 2011  Redistricting Debates
Apr. 11, 2008  D.C. Voting Rights
Feb. 16, 2001  Redistricting
Aug. 12, 1994  Electing Minorities
Feb. 15, 1991  Redistricting: Drawing Power with a Map
Feb. 05, 1982  Reapportionment: Year of Decision
Sep. 30, 1964  Reapportionment Struggle
May 03, 1961  Reapportionment in the Courts
Oct. 29, 1958  Unequal Representation
Oct. 10, 1950  Representation in the United Nations
Jan. 03, 1950  Legislative Apportionment
Nov. 08, 1938  Proportional Representation
May 13, 1929  The Census and Reapportionment
Dec. 06, 1927  Apportionment of Representatives in Congress
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations