Redistricting



Final Congressional District Map

Final Legislative District Map

 

THE PROCESS IN BRIEF

By law, the Census is taken every ten years. In addition to other uses, the Census population counts are used to reapportion Congress and to redraw political lines. Using the Census data, the 435 United States Congressional seats are reapportioned resulting in changes to congressional districts allocated to each state. After reapportionment, state and local redistricting begins. Redistricting is the process by which the electoral maps are drawn using the census data.

WHO DOES IT

In 2000, Arizona voters passed Proposition 106, amending the Arizona Constitution to create state standards for redistricting and to establish the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Through the passage of Proposition 106, the voters gave the task of drawing state legislative and congressional district lines to the Commission and removed it from the state legislature. The purpose of this change was to remove politicians from the process and to create a balanced nonpartisan process.
The Commission is comprised of five members selected from a pool of applicants screened by the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court appointments. From this pool, the Arizona House and Senate majority and minority leaders each select one commissioner, resulting in two republicans and two democrats. These four commissioners select the final commissioner, an independent. More information about the Commission can be found under “Winning at the Redistricting Game.”

 

THE COMMISSION’S TASK

The Commission’s purpose is to create both federal and state voting districts for the State of Arizona that meet state and federal requirements.

 

HOW THEY DO IT

In order to complete their task, the Commission hires staff and consultants, including attorneys and mappers to assist. The Commission has a website at http://www.azredistricting.org, where it lists meeting information, hearing transcripts, draft maps, and useful information about the redistricting process.


There are five phases to Arizona redistricting process.

 

Phase One – Initial Grid: The Commission must first create an initial grid. The initial grid is created by drawing “districts of equal population in a grid-like pattern across the state.” This initial grid does not take into account party registration, voting-history data.

 

Phase Two – Adjustments to the Grid: After the initial grid is developed, the grid is adjusted to accommodate the goals set forth in the Arizona Constitution. These goals include mandatory federal requirements and state constitutional goals. The results of this process are the draft legislative and congressional maps.

 

Phase Three – Public Comment Period: After the draft maps are developed, there is a thirty day public comment period.

 

Phase Four – Final Maps: After the public comment period, the Commission establishes the final district boundaries and certifies them to the Secretary of State.

 

Phase Five – Preclearance: Because Arizona is covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, all changes must be pre-cleared prior to implementation. Therefore, the State must prepare a submission to the US Department of Justice for approval or request approval from the federal district court in the District of Columbia prior to approval. Objections can be submitted to the Department of Justice for consideration. Phase Five is not necessarily the final stage in the process. Producing the maps and having them approved is not necessarily the end of the IRC process. There are a number of factors that could prolong the process. Parties that disagree with the maps can challenge them in court, and the litigation can take years to resolve. The DOJ can also reject the submissions. Either result would require revisions to the maps.

 

WHEN THEY DO IT

Throughout the redistricting process, the Commission has public meetings and allows for public comment. This Commission has started the process late in comparison to other states and the last redistricting round that began in 2001. The mapping consultant, Strategic Telemetry, the final and most important key player in the drawing of the maps, was selected on June 29, 2011. The first round of public hearings began on July 21, 2011 and ended on August 6, 2011. After the first round of public comment, the maps were revised and followed by a thirty-day public comment period. The second round of hearings began in September of 2011 and tentative final maps were posted in December 2011 and were sent to Washington, D.C. in February of 2012. By April 2012 the Department of Justice confirmed Arizona’s Congressional and Legislative maps. See above link to Final Congressional and Legislative Maps.

IMPORTANCE OF REDISTRICTING FOR TRIBES

There are three tiers of redistricting: congressional, state legislative, and local, which includes county and special districts. All three tiers have importance to tribal communities and determine how tribes and their members will be represented for the next ten years. These politicians set the rules by which constituents live. The way that voters are grouped into districts has an impact as to who our representatives will be and what issues they will fight for. Therefore, tribe should participate in the redistricting process to convey where they should be within the new redistricting boundaries in an effort to secure representatives who will advocate for issues impacting their tribal constituents.

 

Congress

Because of the federal-tribal relationship, federal representation is important to all tribes. Issues impacting tribal sovereignty, tribal programs, the trust relationship, resources, cultural protection, and funding for tribal projects are impacted by congressional representation.

 

Arizona Legislature

Although tribes are separate sovereigns, it is important for tribes to participate in state politics because polices made at the state level also impact tribes and their members. Federal pass-through funding, voting requirements, education, and other important issues are made by state representatives. State policy decisions often impact tribes in various ways. Each of these local governments can work collaboratively with tribes on common issues and goals.

 

Local County, School Board, and Special DistrictsEach tribal community is located in one or more county supervisory district, school board district or other special districts. These elected leaders set policy that impact tribes on the local level. For example, school board policies impact tribal children attending public school.

 

Links to Articles about Redistricitng

Links to Pending Redistricting Litigation

Links to more information about Redistricting