A new census of everyone residing in the US is taken every ten years as required by the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Census Bureau is the agency charged with this responsibility.
After the decennial census, each state uses that data to redraw its congressional and legislative districts. U.S. Congressional seats also are reapportioned among the states based on the census results.
Apportionment is the process to distribute the 435 U.S. House of Representatives seats among the 50 states. Each state receives one seat. The remainder are distributed using the Huntington-Hill formula. Arizona received nine Congressional seats in the 2020 apportionment, the same as in 2010.
REDISTRICTING IN ARIZONA
In 2000 Proposition 106 was approved by Arizona voters, amending the Arizona Constitution to create the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC), which is charged with drawing Arizona’s congressional (CD) and legislative district (LD) lines.
The Independent Redistricting Commission has five members—two Republicans, two Democrats, and an Independent chair—who are selected through a public application and interview process.
The IRC works independently of the legislature, the governor, and other public officials and bodies. The five commissioners decide on the final maps and forward them to the Secretary of State for implementation. Approval by the legislature or the governor is not required.
The League of Women Voters of Arizona (LWVAZ) played an important role in the passage of Prop 106 by helping to draft language for the proposition, gathering signatures, and advocating for its passage. Fair and independent redistricting is a strong League policy position.
2021 Redistricting Underway. The first four members of the 2021 IRC were appointed at the end of 2020 and began their work on January 14, 2021, with the selection of Erika Neuberg as independent chair. Their goal is to deliver final maps in mid-December 2021. The Commission’s meetings are virtual and public, with a public comment period during each. For the most up-to-date information about the IRC’s work and schedule, go to irc.az.gov or click on the Follow 2021 button.
Map Criteria. The Arizona Constitution requires that the IRC consider six criteria in drawing the maps. The criteria are equally important and are not hierarchical. First, the maps must comply with the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Then, to the extent practicable, maps must have equal populations; be compact and contiguous; respect communities of interest; use visible geographic features, city, town, and county boundaries, and undivided census tracts; and favor competitive districts when to do so would create no significant detriment to the other goals.
Arizona Mapping Process. Mapping begins with the creation of a grid map with districts of equal population drawn without regard to the current district maps. The grid map districts are then adjusted using the six criteria specified by the Arizona Constitution to produce draft maps. A 30-day public comment period follows after which the IRC adjusts the draft maps to produce final maps.
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: TAKE ACTION
The Public’s Role in Redistricting. Members of the public have important roles in the redistricting process.
First is to be informed. Attend the Commission’s virtual meetings or review meeting recordings; anyone may attend and provide comments on the IRC’s work-- and are encouraged to do so.
- This link will take you to the IRC meeting schedule.
- Subscribe to the weekly IRC newsletter.
- View presentations made to the IRC by experts on the census, voting rights laws, the Arizona and US constitutions, demographics, minority rights and other relevant subjects.
Second is to provide comments on the Commission’s work and on their draft maps. Public comments may be made online during each IRC meeting or 24/7 using the Contact Us link. After draft maps are made available, there is a required 30-day public comment period. Hearings will be held in-person and virtually around the state and comments will be compiled and considered by the Commissioners as they revise the draft maps. The Commission already has held a series of public hearings to hear from the public about their communities of interest; a summary of the comments is available on the IRC website.
Third is to join the League of Women Voters in our efforts to advocate for fair and independent redistricting. Sign up for our Calls to Action and attend training offered by the League.
Local redistricting encompasses redrawing lines within cities and counties for city wards, supervisory districts, justice of the peace precincts, voting precincts, and other legal, defined districts.
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF ARIZONA PEOPLE POWERED FAIR MAPS
The League of Women Voters of Arizona (LWVAZ) People Powered Fair Maps (PPFM) Program, 2019-2022. PPFM is the umbrella term applied to the League’s activities to promote drawing fair and independent maps. Programs were presented for our members and the public in 2020 about the census (LWVAZ Town Hall: Census 2020, Complete County Committees and Redistricting in Arizona, May 23, 2020); the 2011 redistricting commission (LWVAZ: Redistricting in Arizona, June 20, 2020); and legal issues surrounding fair maps (LWVAZ Town Hall: How Partisan Gerrymandering Destroys Democracy, Sept. 12, 2020).
In 2021 the League held a webinar with Chair Erika Neuberg and Executive Director Brian Schmitt (LWVAZ: A Conversation with IRC Chair Dr. Erika Neuberg, June 29, 2021).
Follow the links to recordings of the programs. In 2021 the League is monitoring and commenting on the IRC meetings and decisions, providing training in how to testify and other educational opportunities, and encouraging the public to attend and comment at the meetings. Our objective is to ensure a fair and independent redistricting process.
Click here for links to the most useful redistricting sites.