Iowa, Massachusetts enact new district maps

Iowa enacted new congressional and state legislative maps, and Massachusetts enacted new state legislative maps, on Nov. 4.

Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed for 444 of 1,972 state Senate seats (22.5%) and 1,243 of 5,411 state House seats (23.0%).

In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed new congressional and state legislative maps into law after the state’s Legislative Services Agency had proposed them on Oct. 21. The Iowa legislature approved the maps on Oct. 28 by a vote of 48-1 in the state Senate and 93-2 in the state House. The legislature could only vote to approve or reject the maps and could not make any amendments. These maps take effect for Iowa’s 2022 congressional and legislative elections.

Bloomberg Government’s Greg Giroux said about Iowa’s congressional redistricting plan, “The map, drafted by the state’s nonpartisan legislative agency, created three districts where Donald Trump would’ve narrowly defeated Joe Biden in the 2020 election and a fourth that’s heavily Republican…The map paired the homes of Reps. Cindy Axne (D) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) in the politically competitive 3rd District, which takes most of its population from Axne’s current district in and around Des Moines.”

The Iowa Legislative Services Agency prepares the state’s redistricting plans and is assisted by a five-member advisory commission consisting of one person each appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the state House and Senate. The fifth member of the commission is selected by the other four. All five members cannot hold a partisan public office or be an officer in a political party, nor can they be related to or an employee of either the legislature or any individual legislator.

Upon signing the maps, Gov. Reynolds said, “Today I signed the bipartisan redistricting maps into law. I am confident in how the process played out—just as the law intended, and I believe these new districts will fairly and accurately represent the citizens of Iowa for the next decade.” After the legislature approved the maps, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R) said, “Despite years of fear-mongering about gerrymandering and claims the first map could not be improved, the Iowa Senate followed the process outlined in Iowa Code, and a more compact map with better population differences has been approved.”

In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed the state’s new legislative redistricting plan into law. The state House passed the maps by a vote of 158-1 on Oct. 21. The state Senate approved the legislative plans on Oct. 27 by a vote of 36-3. The legislature began consideration of the state’s redistricting plans on Oct. 19. These maps take effect for Massachusetts’ 2022 legislative elections. 

After the legislature approved the maps, State Sen. William Brownsberger (D) said, “It’s a quality final product. We have used every minute we’ve had to keep vetting, to keep adjusting . . . and to respond to input that we’ve received.” After the redistricting plans were enacted, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin (D) issued a statement expressing concern regarding how the maps would be implemented: “I am extremely disappointed that these bills were signed into law in their current form and I think it is a devastating blow to the voters of Massachusetts. With local precincts divided multiple ways, it will inevitably lead to chaos at the polls and make it impossible for voters to understand who their elected representatives are.”

In Massachusetts, state legislative district lines are drawn by the legislature with committee work performed by the state’s Special Joint Committee on Redistricting. State statutes require that state legislative district boundaries be contiguous and “reasonably preserve counties, towns, and cities intact, where otherwise possible.” Redistricting plans are subject to veto by the governor.

Ten states have adopted congressional district maps, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 34 states have not yet adopted congressional redistricting plans after the 2020 census. Congressional redistricting has been completed for 99 of the 435 seats (22.7%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Twelve states have adopted legislative district maps, one state’s legislative map is awaiting approval by the state supreme court, one state enacted its legislative boundaries based on Census estimates, which will be revised in an upcoming special session, and 36 states have not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census.

Additional reading: