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  • Redistricting Resources for Legislators and Legislative Staff 1

    Redistricting Resources for Legislators and Legislative Staff

    Julia Jackson

    University of Colorado Denver

  • Redistricting Resources for Legislators and Legislative Staff 2

    Contents Figures ....................................................................................................................................... 3

    Tables ........................................................................................................................................ 3

    Executive Summary ................................................................................................................... 4

    Introduction ................................................................................................................................ 6

    Literature Review ....................................................................................................................... 7

    Major Legal Requirements ...................................................................................................... 9

    Redistricting Mechanisms ......................................................................................................14

    Redistricting Staff ..................................................................................................................19

    Redistricting Technology and Data ........................................................................................21

    Research Questions .................................................................................................................22

    Methodology .............................................................................................................................23

    Results ......................................................................................................................................24

    Process .................................................................................................................................24

    Staff .......................................................................................................................................26

    Technology ............................................................................................................................31

    Resources .............................................................................................................................34

    Discussion and Conclusion .......................................................................................................37

    References ...............................................................................................................................40

    Appendices ...............................................................................................................................43

  • Redistricting Resources for Legislators and Legislative Staff 3

    Figures

    Figure 1: Map of Congressional Redistricting Institutions ..........................................................16 Figure 2: Map of State Legislative Redistricting Institutions .......................................................17 Figure 3: State Deadlines for Completing U.S. Congressional Redistricting ..............................26 Figure 4: State Deadlines for Completing State Legislative Redistricting...................................26 Figure 5: Redistricting Staff Relative to Number of U.S. Congressional Districts .......................27 Figure 6: Average Time Staff Spent Working on Redistricting ...................................................30 Figure 7: When Preparations for the 2020 Redistricting Cycle Begin ........................................31 Figure 8: Usefulness of and Familiarity with NCSL Resources ..................................................35

    Tables Table 1: Active Redistricting Litigation in 2015 ..........................................................................10 Table 2: Mechanisms for State Legislative Redistricting ............................................................15 Table 3: Official Formats of State Legislative Redistricting Plans ..............................................25 Table 4: Change in Redistricting Staff Levels 1990-2010 ..........................................................28 Table 5: Redistricting Expertise For Which States Hired Additional Staff ..................................30 Table 6: Redistricting/GIS Software Used in 1990, 2000, and 2010 ..........................................32 Table 7: Public Input to the Redistricting Process .....................................................................34 Table 8: Redistricting Resources ..............................................................................................36

  • Redistricting Resources for Legislators and Legislative Staff 4

    Executive Summary

    This project is designed to help the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL)

    prepare legislators and legislative staff for the 2020 redistricting cycle. We conducted a survey

    of state redistricting staff, contacting all 50 states and receiving at least partial responses from

    47 states (94 percent). The survey data answer critical questions about how the redistricting

    process is staffed and managed in each state. They also assess the quality of NCSLs existing

    redistricting materials and help NCSL determine what other materials might be valuable to its

    member states. Using prior surveys, we were also able to compare staff levels and technology

    choices with the 1990 and 2000 redistricting cycles.

    The survey covered the following areas:

    Overview questions, providing information about the person completing the survey;

    Redistricting process questions, covering legal requirements, records retention, and pending legislation and initiatives;

    Redistricting staff questions, covering the quantity and type of staff assistance used in the 2010 redistricting cycle;

    Redistricting technology questions, covering geographic information system (GIS) vendors and public map submission; and

    Redistricting resource questions, reviewing NCSLs available resources and offering the opportunity to recommend others.

    Survey respondents were primarily nonpartisan legislative staff, the vast majority of whom do

    not work exclusively on redistricting issues. Most respondents worked on the 2010 redistricting

    cycle.

    We found that most states either have redistricting commissions or have considered

    them, that most states spend 6 months to 2 years working on redistricting, and that about half of

    the states hired additional staff specifically for redistricting. Staffing levels correspond loosely to

    the number of congressional districts a state has, but there is a good deal of variation. And

    even though the redistricting technology field has largely consolidated to two vendors, at least

  • Redistricting Resources for Legislators and Legislative Staff 5

    half the states will consider switching to a different vendor for the 2020 cycle. Finally,

    respondents were overall familiar with NCSLs existing redistricting resources and find them

    useful.

    Survey findings provide justification for NCSL support in the redistricting process, even

    though most respondents were confident in their states ability to manage the redistricting

    process. They suggest a continued interest in the creation of redistricting commissions and an

    increased interest in online mapping options, both for staff and the public. Respondents

    expressed a desire for training sessions focused specifically on redistricting staff, with a

    particular interest in GIS training. They also asked that many of NCSLs existing resources be

    updated for 2020.

  • Redistricting Resources for Legislators and Legislative Staff 6

    Introduction

    The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) "provides research, technical

    assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state

    issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American

    federal system" (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2009). NCSL serves as a resource

    for legislators and legislative staff on a variety of issues, including elections and redistricting.

    NCSLs redistricting and elections program has a staff of three, limiting its ability to research any

    one topic in depth, and in between redistricting cycles, their focus is generally on other issues.

    The program manager, Wendy Underhill, welcomed the opportunity to work with a student

    specifically on redistricting.

    Redistricting comes after reapportionment. The basic law of reapportionment is found in

    Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, as modified by the 14th Amendment, and it is short:

    Representatives [] shall be apportioned among the several states [] according to their

    respective numbers[.] The actual Enumeration shall be made [] within every subsequent term

    of ten Years, in such manner as they shall by law direct (U.S. Const. art. I, 2). Census Day is

    April 1, 2020. After the Census has completed its survey, each state is granted Representatives

    based on its share of the population. This is the reapportionment, and the Census Bureau must

    provide reapportionment data by December 31, 2020. It is then up to the states to draw

    districts for those Representatives.