Redistricting

Support for a state redistricting process and standards that promote fair and effective representation with maximum opportunity for public scrutiny
Position In Brief: 

Support for an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission as the preferred redistricting body.

Support for a state redistricting process and standards that promote fair and effective representation with maximum opportunity for public scrutiny.

Position:

The League of Women Voters of Texas supports action to achieve an effective method for drawing boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts. The League supports the formation of an autonomous, Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission following the decennial census with the initial responsibility of formulating a redistricting plan designating boundaries for the U.S. congressional districts and the state House and Senate districts. Criteria and standards for drawing district boundaries include the following:

  • Districts must be apportioned on the basis of equal population
  • Districts must be geographical and contiguous
  • Consideration must be given to ensuring that the districts be compact, that district lines coincide with boundaries of local political subdivisions, and that districts not be drawn to dilute the voting strength of minority populations or drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or incumbent
  • Districts must not be apportioned on the basis of numbers of electors, but on total population (a qualified elector is any person eligible to vote in a state election in Texas; federal apportionment law is based on total population.)

The redistricting process must include:

  • Specific time lines for the steps leading to adoption of the redistricting plan
  • Public hearings on the plan proposed for adoption
Position History: 

In 1983 the League adopted a "study of the congressional and legislative redistricting process in Texas, including assessment of current criteria and evaluation of possible alternatives." The study grew out of a concern for the way redistricting had been accomplished during the 1970's and 1980's when legislative redistricting problems had resulted in prolonged wrangling over district lines. League members asked for the study in order to have a position from which to work before the 1990 census and the next round of redistricting. The position was adopted in the fall of 1984.

League members strongly support the initial use of a commission. But members also provided for an alternative method in the event that the legislature is not willing to use a commission. If a commission is not initially responsible, the legislature should conduct the work of redistricting during a special session of the legislature called for the sole purpose of redistricting. The special session should operate within a short, strict time frame.

During 1997-98 Periodic Program Review, the committee clarified the League position opposing consideration of "communities of interest" as criteria for drawing district boundaries. Communities of interest can include common occupations, industries, and ethnic or religious cultures. Most redistricting authorities agree that this criterion is so broad that it invites problems. Communities of interest are difficult to define and often extend beyond political subdivisions and geographical boundaries. Racial and language minorities can constitute a community of interest that is already protected under the Voting Rights Act. At a statewide convention in 2013, delegates voted to remove the term "communities of interest" from the position.

2017 update to LWV-TX and LWV-US redistricting position

Issues: 
League to which this content belongs: 
Texas