Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from West Virginia and Wyoming.
West Virginia: On Oct. 7, 2021, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) called for a special session starting Oct. 11 for the legislature to finish the redistricting process and approve legislative and congressional district maps. “This is on all the redistricting we have to do. We’ve got to do this and everything. The special session is part of the Legislature’s constitutional duty to redistrict the state of West Virginia,” Justice said.
Wyoming: At an Oct. 6, 2021, meeting, the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Corporations, Election and Political Subdivisions committee agreed on a schedule to finish the redistricting process. The committee set Nov. 1, 2021, as the deadline for map proposals. Redistricting legislation proposals must be finished by Dec. 1, 2021, so they can be reviewed before the 2022 budget session begins on Feb. 14. The committee plans to meet again in early November to go over any remaining issues with the map drafts, but has not set a date yet.
Federal court pauses lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s redistricting until Nov. 5
On Oct. 6, a three-judge federal court panel agreed to temporarily halt proceedings in a lawsuit asking the court to set a deadline for legislators to redraw district maps and intervene by drawing its own maps. Attorney Mark Elias filed the lawsuit on behalf of six Wisconsin Democrats. The court postponed further action in the case until at least Nov. 5, but said that it would prepare for a trial in January 2022 if maps are not enacted.
In its ruling, the three-judge panel said, “Federal rights are at stake, so this court will stand by to draw the maps — should it become necessary. The court recognizes that responsibility for redistricting falls first to the states, and that this court should minimize any interference with the state’s own redistricting efforts. But the Wisconsin Supreme Court did not commit to drawing new legislative or congressional maps, and has not yet set a schedule to do so, or even to decide whether it will do so.”
On Sept. 24, lawyers for Republican state legislators in Wisconsin asked the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the federal lawsuit, arguing that redistricting challenges should be heard in state, rather than federal courts. On Sept. 22, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided 4-3 to hear a redistricting case filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty asking the court to establish a timeline for the legislature and Gov. Tony Evers (D) to agree on new maps and to draw the maps themselves should they be unable to.
Plaintiffs amend filings in lawsuits challenging enacted legislative maps in Illinois
The plaintiffs in two lawsuits challenging Illinois’ newly enacted state legislative district boundaries amended their filings on Oct. 6 after Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed the new maps into law on Sept. 24. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Illinois House and Senate Republican leaders Jim Durkin and Dan McConchie argue that the redrawn district boundaries reduce the number of districts where Latino voters comprise a majority of the voting-age population.
Both lawsuits were originally filed in June and argued at the time that the original state legislative maps enacted on June 4 were invalid because they used data from the American Community Survey rather than from the 2020 census. Both lawsuits ask the court to invalidate the enacted maps. The lawsuit filed by Illinois’ House and Senate Republican leaders further argues that the state failed to meet the June 30 constitutional deadline for new district boundaries since the maps that the legislature passed were invalid. If a court rules that the Illinois legislature failed to approve a redistricting plan by the deadline, responsibility for drawing new maps would go to an eight-member backup commission where no more than four members may belong to the same political party.
At least nine states made progress in either proposing, advancing, or enacting new congressional and state legislative district maps as part of the 2020 redistricting process between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6.
New maps were proposed in Colorado, Ohio, Washington, and West Virginia.
Colorado: The Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission released its third staff-drawn plan for the state’s House and Senate districts on Oct. 5. The release of this proposal comes one week before the 12-person commission’s Oct. 12 deadline to select a final map out of the existing proposals.
This is the first redistricting cycle in Colorado since the adoption of Constitutional Amendment Z in 2018, which created a non-politician commission to develop new state legislative maps. The commission is made up of four Democrats, four Republicans, and four unaffiliated members. At least eight of the 12 commissioners, including two of the unaffiliated members, must vote in favor of a map for it to be approved and sent to the Colorado Supreme Court for next steps.
If the commission cannot select a map by the Oct. 12 deadline, one of the three staff-drawn maps will be sent to the court instead.
Ohio: Democratic State Sens. Kenny Yuko (D) and Vernon Sykes (D) released a proposed congressional district map on Sept. 30, the final day for the legislature to take the first pass at congressional maps. No action was taken on the map and the legislature missed the deadline.
What happens next was decided by voters in 2018 when they approved Issue 1, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment.
Under the amendment, since the legislature did not select a map by its first deadline, the process moves over to a redistricting commission made up of the governor, auditor, and secretary of state—all Republicans—and four legislators, at least two of whom must belong to the minority party, which, in this case, is the Democratic Party. The commission may approve a map with a majority vote but only if at least two minority party members are voting in favor. If the commission cannot select a map it moves back to the legislature for a second round. Learn more here.
Republicans currently hold majorities in both the House (64-35) and Senate (25-8).
Washington: The state’s four voting redistricting commissioners each released proposed congressional district maps on Sept. 28. These maps will be the subject of a virtual meeting on Oct. 9. Members of the public are invited to participate. The deadline for the commission to finalize its maps is Nov. 15.
The release of the congressional maps comes one week after the commissioners each released their proposed state legislative district maps on Sept. 21. A public meeting over those proposals was held on Oct. 5.
In Washington, congressional and state legislative lines are redrawn by a five-person non-politician commission. The majority and minority leaders of the Washington state House and Senate each appoint one registered voter. These four appointed commissioners then appoint a fifth, non-voting member, to serve as chair.
West Virginia: On Sept. 30, the House and Senate Redistricting committees released a collective total of 18 congressional district map proposals, the first proposed maps released during the state’s 2020 redistricting cycle.
In addition to its congressional map proposals, the House Redistricting Committee also released its first proposed state legislative district map for the House of Delegates. No senate maps were included in the initial release.
In West Virginia, both the House and Senate propose congressional maps. For state legislative map proposals, each chamber is responsible for originating its own maps.
Arkansas and Texas got one step closer to enacting new maps as proposals advanced to the next stage.
Arkansas: On Sept. 29, legislators in Arkansas reconvened in a special session to, among other things, consider new congressional district maps. On Oct. 6, two identical proposals, one from the House and one from the Senate, passed out of their respective committees.
The proposals—House Bill 1982 and Senate Bill 743—were introduced by Rep. Nelda Speaks (R) and Sen. Jane English (R), respectively. Over 30 proposals were filed, with these two also coming within the past week.
At the time of writing, these bills had not yet passed through the legislature in full, but local commentary appeared to believe the proposed map would ultimately make it to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who then has the ability to either sign or veto the map.
Texas: The Texas State Senate voted 20-11 in favor of a proposed map of the state’s Senate districts on Oct. 4.
The vote fell largely along party lines. Seventeen Republicans voted in favor of the proposal and were joined by three Democrats: Sens. Juan Hinojosa, Eddie Lucio, and Judith Zaffirini. The remaining 10 Democrats in the chamber voted against the proposal in addition to Republican Sen. Kel Seliger.
Three states—Indiana, Maine, and Nebraska—enacted new congressional and state legislative maps. In each state, the legislature was responsible for redrawing the district lines which were then sent to the governor for final approval. Indiana and Nebraska account for 12 congressional districts. Both states currently have Republican trifectas. Maine, which has two congressional districts, is a Democratic trifecta.
On Sept. 28, the Wisconsin General Assembly voted to approve a resolution that called for keeping “as much as possible the core of existing districts, thus maintaining 11 existing communities of interest, and promoting the equal opportunity to vote by minimizing disenfranchisement.” The Senate approved the resolution in a 19-12 vote along party lines, and the Assembly approved it in a 60-38 vote.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R) said the resolution was “about continuity of representation. The parameters of reapportionment have always been the same, trying to keep districts compact, contiguous, keep communities of like interest together.”
Gov. Tony Evers (D) said it was unlikely he would approve any maps that maintained the current districts, saying “The current maps are inadequate, and to base our decision-making on that inadequacy would not be doing the people’s work.”
In Wisconsin, both congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn by the Wisconsin State Legislature. These lines are subject to veto by the governor. The state legislature has not yet announced a date to begin the redistricting process.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed new congressional and state legislative district maps into law on Oct. 4, 2021. The Indiana General Assembly approved the new maps on Oct. 1.
The Indiana state Senate approved the final congressional and legislative district boundaries on Oct. 1 by a vote of 36-12, with all votes to approve coming from Republicans. Eleven Senate Democrats joined State Sen. Ron Grooms (R) in voting against the maps. On the same day, the Indiana House of Representatives approved the final district maps by a vote of 64-25. All votes in favor were by Republicans with 22 Democrats and three Republicans voting against.
The Indiana House Republican caucus released the first draft of congressional and state House district boundaries on September 14, 2021. The Indiana Senate Republican caucus released the first draft of proposed state Senate districts on September 20, 2021. The full legislative history of Indiana’s redistricting proposals, including House and Senate committee reports and proposed amendments, can be found here at the Indiana General Assembly’s website.
In a statement issued after signing the state’s new district boundaries, Gov. Holcomb said, “Today I signed HB 1581, completing this once-in-a-decade constitutionally required process. I want to thank both the House and Senate for faithfully following through in an orderly and transparent way. And, a special thanks to every Hoosier who participated in the process by sharing their local perspective and input.”
Kaitlin Lange of the Indianapolis Star wrote that the “congressional map also likely will enable Republicans to keep seven of the nine congressional seats in Indiana and make the 5th District, which contains suburban Hamilton County, a more reliably Republican district.”
Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R) said of the maps, “We have said all along that we were committed to drawing fair maps in a transparent way, and I believe we have done that. We prioritized keeping communities of interest together and drawing districts that make sense for the Hoosiers who live there while maintaining nearly equal populations in each district. I believe these maps reflect feedback from the public and will serve Hoosiers well for the next decade.”
State Sen. Eddie Melton (D) said, “I’m very disappointed by the partisan nature of the redistricting process as well as the actions by the supermajority to deliberately dilute minority voices. In Northwest Indiana, two of my colleagues were drawn into the same district, and in West Lafayette and Lafayette, communities of interest were inexplicably split up. The supermajority’s intent to secure complete political control by drowning out certain voices seems clear from their actions, and it’s truly a disservice to our residents.”
All three maps take effect for Indiana’s 2022 congressional and legislative elections.
On September 29, 2021, Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed legislation enacting redrawn congressional and state legislative district boundaries as a result of the 2020 census. The Maine Apportionment Commission approved a final congressional district plan on Sept. 24 and final state legislative district plans on Sept. 27.
The Maine legislature unanimously approved the state’s new congressional and state Senate maps. The Senate unanimously approved new state House district boundaries and the Maine House approved them, 119-10. A two-thirds majority was required to approve new district boundaries.
According to the Bangor Daily News, “The only changes to the state’s congressional maps will take place in Kennebec County, where about 54,000 Mainers will switch districts. Augusta, the capital city, will move from the 1st to the 2nd District, along with Chelsea, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Manchester, Readfield and Winthrop. Meanwhile, Albion, Benton, Clinton, Litchfield, Unity township and West Gardiner will move from the 2nd District to the 1st.”
The Maine Wire reported that the legislature did not change any of the maps submitted by the Apportionment Commission, but some members objected to changes made to the composition of their districts.
Upon signing the new district plans, Gov. Mills released a statement saying, “I applaud Maine’s Apportionment Commission, especially its Chair, former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Donald Alexander, as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for preparing and approving new maps that fulfill our commitment to making sure Maine people are equally and fairly represented in their government. To have done so without rancor and partisanship and under a constrained timeline is something Maine people can be proud of.”
After the maps’ approval, State Sen. Rick Bennett (R), a member of the apportionment commission, said, “Extremely happy that we reached the deadline and we were able to deal with it in a legislative context and not send any part of it to the court. I was pleased, while there was some elbows here and there, that we did our work, we worked collaboratively and we got the job done.”
All maps will take effect for Maine’s 2022 congressional and legislative elections.
On Sept. 30, the Nebraska State Legislature approved new congressional and state legislative district maps. Shortly after the legislature’s approval, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) signed the maps into law.
The congressional map was approved by a 35-11 vote, with all dissenting votes coming from Democratic members of the legislature. All Republicans in attendance voted in favor of the map, along with four Democrats.
The state legislative map was approved by a 37-7 vote. Twenty-nine Republicans and eight Democrats voted in favor of the map. Five Democrats and two Republicans voted against it.
Following the approval of the maps, Sen. Justin Wayne (D) said: “It was a very frustrating process, but we got to a good result.” Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R), chairwoman of the redistricting committee, expressed approval of the maps and said she was “constantly reminded how capable Sen. Wayne is” during the negotiations.
These maps will take effect for the 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.
Redistricting map updates: proposals, advancements, and enactments between Sept. 22 and 29
At least eight states made progress in either proposing, advancing, or enacting new district maps between Sept. 22 and 29.
New maps were proposed in Arkansas, Georgia, and North Dakota.
Arkansas: Between Sept. 9 and 27, fifteen state legislators—nine Republicans and six Democrats—introduced 17 proposed maps of the state’s four congressional districts. The House and Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee met jointly on Sept. 20, 23, and 27 to consider these proposals, which now go before the Arkansas State Legislature, which began a special session on Sept. 29.
In Arkansas, the state legislature is responsible for congressional redistricting. State legislative districts, on the other hand, are drawn by the Arkansas Board of Apportionment, a three-person board made up of Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), Atty. Gen. Leslie Rutledge (R), and Sec. of State John Thurston (R). As of Sept. 29, the board had not released any draft state legislative maps.
Georgia: On Sept. 27, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) and state Sen. John Kennedy (R) released the first draft proposal of the state’s new congressional districts. The Georgia General Assembly will consider this proposal and any others released over the coming month at a special legislative session starting Nov. 3.
North Dakota: The North Dakota Legislative Redistricting Committee released a statewide draft map for state legislative districts on Sept. 23. The Associated Press’ James MacPherson wrote that the proposal adds three districts to the state’s fastest-growing regions—Fargo and areas experiencing an oil boom—with an equal number removed from other rural areas.
Colorado, Indiana, and Nebraska got one step closer to enacting new maps as proposals advanced to the next stage.
Colorado: The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission voted 11-1 in support of a congressional map plan, sending it to the Colorado Supreme Court for final approval. Due to population growth, Colorado received an eighth congressional district, which was drawn to include areas north of Denver and encompassing Greeley, one of the fastest-growing towns in the state. The district would also have a Hispanic population of 39%, the largest such concentration in the state.
Indiana: The Indiana House of Representatives voted 67-31 on Sept. 23 in support of proposed state legislative and congressional maps. Three Republicans—Reps. Jeff Ellington, Matt Hostettler, and John Jacob—joined 28 Democrats in opposing the maps. All 67 votes in favor of the maps were from Republicans. The proposals advanced to the Senate, which is expected to hold a vote on Oct. 1.
Nebraska: The Nebraska State Legislature gave first- and second-round approval to a set of congressional and state legislative maps on Sept. 24 and 28, respectively. The maps, introduced by Redistricting Committee Chairwoman Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R), have been amended and will face a third and likely final round of voting. If passed, the maps then proceed to the Secretary of State’s office.
The governors of Illinois and Oregon signed new maps into law.
Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed adjusted state legislative maps into law on Sept. 24. Pritzker previously enacted new state legislative districts on June 4. Those maps were based on American Community Survey data. On Aug. 31, the Illinois State Legislature reconvened to adjust the maps to account for the release of 2020 census data, which resulted in the copy ultimately signed into law.
Oregon: On Sept. 27, the Oregon State Legislature approved final congressional and state legislative district maps. Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the maps into law the same day.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed new congressional and state legislative maps into law on Sept. 27, making Oregon the first state to enact congressional maps in the current redistricting cycle. If the maps are not changed by the Oregon Supreme Court as a result of possible legal challenges, this would become the third time since 1910 that Oregon enacted redistricting maps drawn by the legislature.
The congressional maps were approved by the Oregon State Senate 18-6, and the Oregon House of Representatives 33-16. The state legislative maps were approved by the Oregon State Senate 18-11, and the Oregon House of Representatives 31-18.
After signing the maps, Gov. Brown released a statement saying: “My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.” The House Special Committee On Congressional Redistricting amended the congressional map after Republican legislators criticized the initial Democratic proposal.
House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R) criticized the maps, saying: “This is by no means over. The illegal congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing congressional lines to ensure five out of six seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.”
During the special session on redistricting, which began Sept. 20, House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) made alterations to the redistricting process. Rather than have one house committee made up of three Democrats and three Republicans handle both state legislative and congressional redistricting, she created two new committees to handle the maps. The committee handling congressional maps had two Democratic members and one Republican member, and the committee handling state legislative redistricting had four Democratic members and four Republican members. In a statement, Kotek said: “Ultimately, we are bound to do our constitutional duty and the job Oregonians elected us to do. Separate committees are the only path the House now has to fulfill its responsibilities.”
In response to the procedural change and the proposed maps, all but one Republican member of the house did not attend the special session on Sept. 25. Sixteen of the 23 House Republicans returned when the session resumed on Sept. 27, meaning the House was able to reach a quorum and move forward with the redistricting votes. Rep. Suzanne Weber (R) said “Many of us [Republicans] are only here because we don’t trust the secretary of state [Shemia Fagan (D)] to draw these maps.”
Possible challenges to the congressional map must be filed by Oct. 12, and challenges to the state legislative maps must be filed by Oct. 25. To read more about the redistricting process in Oregon after the 2020 census, click here.
Here’s a summary of recent redistricting timeline updates from New York, North Dakota, and South Carolina.
New York: The New York Independent Redistricting Commission announced a second round of public hearings on map proposals to be held between Oct. 20 and Nov. 23, 2021. The first deadline for the commission to submit map proposals to the legislature for approval is Jan. 1, 2022, and the second deadline is Jan. 15, 2022.
North Dakota: The North Dakota Legislative Redistricting Committee continues to hold meetings, including a meeting for public input on the partial proposed redistricting maps on September 22. Additional meetings are scheduled for September 28 and 29 at the State Capitol Building in Bismarck.
South Carolina: House Majority Leader Gary Simrill (R) announced on September 22 that the South Carolina House will return in December to approve new district maps. The House Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee continues to hold public meetings through October 4, 2021.