Voting and Elections - Redistricting

Voting and Elections - Redistricting

Position In Brief: 

Support a state redistricting process and standards that promote fair and effective representation in the state legislature and in the U.S. House of Representatives with maximum opportunity for public scrutiny.

Support of an independent, non-partisan commission with broad-based community, civic, and minority representation as the preferred redistricting body. The redistricting process, regardless of who has responsibility for redistricting, should include:

a. time limits for the process:
i. automatic non-judicial procedures for problems of process and timely completion of the redistricting;
ii. automatic court action if the plan is not completed on time (the plan including appeals must be in place 30 days before the deadline for candidate declarations to run for office);
b. maximum opportunity for public scrutiny, including:
i. public access to data and the computer redistricting software during the process (note: the State should retain ownership of all computer data used):
ii. public hearings in a variety of locations around the state during the process (one suggestion was to hold at least 3 meetings in each congressional district);
iii. information concerning redistricting should also be widely disseminated to the public by means of all available media, the internet/web, libraries and so on;
iv. wide dissemination of the final plan both in print (at municipal offices and libraries) and in electronic form with notices concerning availability in all media;

c. the requirement that changes to the plan proposed by the redistricting body or approval of the plan must be by a 2/3s vote of the legislative body;

d. appeal of the final plan should be allowed for e Attorney General, non-profit groups, individual citizens, municipalities, and civic groups

The standards on which a redistricting plan is based, regardless of who has responsibility for redistricting,

a. should include, as required by federal and state law:
1) substantially equal population;
2) geographic contiguity;
3) protection from diluting the voting strength of a racial or linguistic minority;

b. should prohibit the consideration of:
1) the political affiliations of registered voters;
2) previous election results;

c. to the extent possible, standards should also include:
1) respect for boundaries of municipalities;
2) census boundaries;
3) consideration of geographic boundaries particularly where they would be an impediment to travel within a district.
Responsibility for redistricting preferably should be vested in an independent commission, with membership that includes legislators (a politically balanced group by party), a representative of from the League of Cities and Towns, and representatives from community, civic, and minority groups.
Position History: 

Adopted February 2001

League to which this content belongs: 
Rhode Island