7 Things to Know About Redistricting

 Brennan Center for Justice

October 28, 2013

The recent government shutdown and struggle over raising the debt ceiling were the result of many factors. Big money in politics, congressional dysfunction, and geographical self-sorting by like-minded voters all played a role. So did redistricting. For those unfamiliar with redistricting, below are some common questions and answers.

Also see our Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting.

What is redistricting?
Members of Congress, state legislators, and many county and municipal offices are elected by voters grouped into districts. At least once per decade, usually after a Census, district lines are redrawn, block by block. Populations change. Some districts gain residents, some lose them. Some districts increase the numbers of minorities, some districts lose them. District boundaries are redrawn to ensure each district has about the same number of people and to fulfill the constitutional guarantee that each voter has an equal say. Based on the 2010 census, each Congressional district has an average population of about 711,000, which is nearly a 10 percent increase from the 2000 census, when each district had an average of 647,000 people. In 2010, some states lost congressional seats and others gained them. For example, Texas gained four districts and New York lost two.

Who draws the lines?
Each state decides. In most states, the line drawers are politicians along with hired consultants. Often, state legislators draw the map, which the governor can veto. Some states have special commissions that advise legislators on drawing the map, or that serve as backup mapmakers if the legislature deadlocks. A few states have independent commissions so politicians and public officials cannot directly draw their own districts. Some states try to prevent a single political party from controlling the process. Some do not, providing one party a major advantage if it controls the state legislature. In other states, politicians from both parties simply work together to draw districts that often protect incumbents.

Why does redistricting matter?
Redistricting affects political power. It determines which party controls Congress and state and local governments across the country. Even when the population is divided equally, drawing the lines one way can reward Democrats and punish Republicans or vice versa. Some line-drawing can protect incumbents. Some line-drawing can guarantee they will face a potent challenger, either from their own party or the opposite party. Consequently, redistricting has a direct bearing on what matters a legislature chooses to tackle, and which to ignore.

How should the lines be drawn?
A good redistricting process should help a community secure meaningful representation. Other than meeting the constitutional requirement that all votes should count equally, there is no magic formula. Many states consider “communities of interest” when drawing their districts. That’s just a term for groups of people who share common social, cultural, racial, economic, geographic, or other concerns. These groups are likely to have similar legislative interests as well, and that means they can benefit from common representation in the government. This goes much deeper than Republican or Democrat. A district of farmers, say, and a district of city dwellers will probably elect representatives that reflect differing histories, priorities, and aspirations. Other redistricting goals — like keeping a district compact or within county borders — are usually proxies for keeping communities intact. A good redistricting process will be open and transparent, allowing communities to ask questions and give input. This participation is important, since communities are the basic units of well-designed districts.

What is gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering refers to the manipulation of district lines to protect or change political power. Any change in district lines affects politics. But a gerrymander is a deliberate and, according to opponents, unfair attempt to draw district lines to increase the likelihood of a particular political result. Incumbents, for example, have an incentive to create districts that are likely to re-elect them, sometimes dividing communities among one or more districts when a single district containing the entire community would better represent their interests.

Did redistricting affect the government shutdown?
Republicans gained 43 seats in the House of Representatives in the 2010 election and regained majority control, the largest swing in any midterm election since 1938. Many experts believe the newly-elected Republicans won their seats as a result of gerrymandering, which created districts with more conservative electorates. More than 50 House Republicans belong to the Tea Party Caucus, the main proponent of the government shutdown and the confrontation over the debt ceiling. This minority of the majority party drove many of the recent decisions regarding whether the House would consider legislation to continue funding the government. Some experts think these lawmakers were likely more willing to shut down the government because they did not fear being voted out of office. Others say gerrymandering did not have an effect because it actually reduces the number of extremely safe districts.

When is the next redistricting cycle, and what can you do now?
The next redistricting will be after the 2020 census. You can hold the line drawers accountable by paying attention and speaking up. Call your state legislators and tell them you want a fair redistricting process. Lawmakers will propose redistricting reform measures in the next few years. Track those developments and make your voice heard.

on this day … 4/19 1994 -LA jury awarded $3.8mil to Rodney King for violation of his civil rights&a day for domestic terrorism

1012 – Aelfheah was murdered by Danes who had been ravaging the south of England. Aelfhear became the 29th Archbishop of Canterbury in 1005.

1539 – Emperor Charles V reached a truce with German Protestants at Frankfurt, Germany.

1587 – English admiral Sir Francis Drake entered Cadiz harbor and sank the Spanish fleet.

1689 – Residents of Boston ousted their governor, Edmond Andros.

1713 – Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI issued the Pragmatic Sanction, which gave women the rights of succession to Hapsburg possessions.

1764 – The English Parliament banned the American colonies from printing paper money.

1770 – Captain James Cook discovered New South Wales, Australia. Cook originally named the land Point Hicks.

1775 – The American Revolution began as fighting broke out at Lexington, MA.

1782 – The Netherlands recognized the new United States.

1794 – Tadeusz Kosciuszko forced the Russians out of Warsaw.

1802 – The Spanish reopened the New Orleans port to American merchants.

1839 – The Kingdom of Belgium was recognized by all the states of Europe when the Treaty of London was signed.

1852 – The California Historical Society was founded.

1861 – Thaddeus S. C. Lowe sailed 900 miles in nine hours in a hot air balloon from Cincinnati, OH, to Unionville, SC.

1861 – The Baltimore riots resulted in four Union soldiers and nine civilians killed.

1861 – U.S. President Lincoln ordered a blockade of Confederate ports.

1892 – The Duryea gasoline buggy was introduced in the U.S. by Charles and Frank Duryea.

1897 – The first annual Boston Marathon was held. It was the first of its type in the U.S.

1927 – In China, Hankow communists declared war on Chaing Kai-shek.

1933 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation that removed the U.S. from the gold standard.

1938 – General Francisco Franco declared victory in the Spanish Civil War.

1939 – Connecticut approved the Bill of Rights for the U.S. Constitution after 148 years.

1943 – The Warsaw Ghetto uprising against Nazi rule began. The Jews were able to fight off the Germans for 28 days.

1951 – General Douglas MacArthur gave his “Old Soldiers” speech before the U.S. Congress after being relieved by U.S. President Truman. In the address General MacArthur said that “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”

1951 – Shigeki Tanaka won the Boston Marathon. Tanaka had survived the atomic blast at Hiroshima, Japan during World War II.

1956 – Actress Grace Kelly became Princess Grace of Monaco when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco. The civil ceremony took place on April 18.

1960 – Baseball uniforms began displaying player’s names on their backs.

1967 – Surveyor 3 landed on the moon and began sending photos back to the U.S.

1971 – Russia launched the Salyut into orbit around Earth. It was the first space station.

1975 – India launched its first satellite with aid from the USSR.

1977 – Alex Haley received a special Pulitzer Prize for his book “Roots.”

1981 – In Davao, Philippines, thirteen people were killed when members of the New People’s Army threw hand grenades into the Roman Catholic cathedral during Easter services.

1982 – NASA named Sally Ride to be first woman astronaut.

1982 – NASA named Guion S. Bluford Jr. as the first African-American astronaut.

1982 – The U.S. announced a ban on U.S. tourist and business travel to Cuba. The U.S. charged the Cuban government with subversion in Central America.

1987 – In Phoenix, AZ, skydiver Gregory Robertson went into a 200-mph free-fall to save an unconscious colleague 3,500 feet from the ground.

1987 – The last California condor known to be in the wild was captured and placed in a breeding program at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

1989 – A gun turret exploded aboard the USS Iowa. 47 sailors were killed.

1989 – In El Salvador, Attorney General Alvadora was killed by a car bomb.

1993 – The Branch-Davidian’s compound in Waco, TX, burned to the ground. It was the end of a 51-day standoff between the cult and U.S. federal agents. 86 people were killed including 17 children. Nine of the Branch Davidians escaped the fire.

1994 – A Los Angeles jury awarded $3.8 million to Rodney King for violation of his civil rights.

1995 – The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, was destroyed by a bomb. It was the worst bombing on U.S. territory. 168 people were killed including 19 children, and 500 were injured. Timothy McVeigh was found guilty of the bombing on June 2, 1997.

1998 – Wang Dan, a leader of 1989 Tienanmen Square pro democracy protests, was freed by the Chinese government.

2000 – The Oklahoma City National Memorial was dedicated on the fifth anniversary of the bombing in Oklahoma that killed 168 people.

.2000 – In the Philippines, Air Philippines GAP 541 crashed while preparing to land. 131 people were killed.

2002 – The USS Cole was relaunched. In Yemen, 17 sailors were killed when the ship was attacked by terrorists on October 12, 2000. The attack was blamed on Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network.

This Could Be Gerrymandering – reminder

By  a repost from 4/2015

The Supreme Court Gives a Second Chance to Opponents of North Carolina’s Redistricting Plan

The Supreme Court gave good news to opponents of North Carolina’s gerrymandered redistricting map — and supporters of representative government! — yesterday. The high court ordered that North Carolina take another look at a challenge to the state’s election map. In December, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld a redistricting map drawn by the Republican legislature that packs African-American voters into a few districts, diluting the overall power of their vote. The Supreme Court did not issue a formal decision on the case, but the justices ordered the state supreme court to reexamine the case, which is an important first step in ensuring that the state’s election maps are fairly considered.

African American voters in North Carolina saw a drastic change in representation after the 2010 census, when the map in question was drawn. Before 2011, North Carolina had ten majority black state House districts. After, the number more than doubled to 23. Concentrating black voters into a handful of districts dilutes the group’s voting strength by increasing the proportion of white voters in other districts. For example, in 2012, while more than half of North Carolina voters voted for Democratic representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans filled about 70 percent of the seats.

Much controversy surrounds the drawing of North Carolina’s redistricting maps. Through a project called the Redistricting Majority Project, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), worked with many states, including North Carolina, to draw election maps that would rig the game in their favor.

The RSLC was looking to influence the outcome of these gerrymandered maps in other ways as well. The group was by far the largest contributor in the last two North Carolina Supreme Court races, which both took place after this court case was filed and while the appeal was pending, calling into question the partiality of the court’s decision. The Center for American Progress looks deeper into the influence of the RSLC and other conservative groups on judicial races and looks at some of the return on investments these groups are getting.
Yesterday’s decision represents some momentum for advocates of good government. It built off of a similar ruling on Alabama’s election map that the court handed down in March. The Alabama decision asked a lower court to consider whether concentrating minority voters into a handful of districts could violate the Voting Rights Act by limiting the number of districts in which minorities could influence elections. These two orders from the Supreme Court are a good sign that the highest court is taking a harder look at racial gerrymandering.

BOTTOM LINE: The Supreme Court’s order to revive the challenge to North Carolina’s unfair election map is a step in the right direction. Fixing the state’s election map is just one of many steps that will need to be taken to ensure that conservatives cannot continue stacking the deck in their favor by suppressing the voice of others.

Packing & Cracking ~~ a repost and reminder

Elbridge Gerry (1744–1814), American statesman
Elbridge Gerry (1744–1814), American statesman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Time for the DOJ to deal with this nonsense! old outdated complicit relationships that need to change

It is time to take Republicans onto the floor of Congress and wipe up the floor with their ideologies.

just another rant …

The things on my mind while Congress continues to take a few days here there … on vacation … a congressional recess

 Hopefully members of Congress have heard their constituents voices about Gun Safety, understand that  ACA is the law of the land,  respect Women and their reproductive rights, find courage to end governmental shutdowns, find the compassion to implement save or reform Paycheck Fairness, Immigration and Medicaid just to name a few. Lest we forget that Republican Governors continue to pass, ridiculous Family Values bills while squashing social service programs for the poor.

I also hope the constant racial comments by people voted into Public Office, which, sadly is slurped up by people who seem to be listening and following like lemmings  not only affects people of colour ends. It shows the World how primitive we truly are while our constitution, civil and human right achievements seem like documents and sensibilities with absolutely no value or power.  The public needs to stay informed; elections suffice it to say have consequences. The fact is midterm elections are just as important as the National Elections, especially in years when gerrymandering or as they say ,when redistricting goes into full effect which lumps, separates, destroys diverse communities and robs some of their voting rights allowing more extreme tea party members onto the Congressional floor.

~~ Nativegrl77

The information below is a history and timeline regarding the Census and Gerrymandering or Packing & Cracking

In December 1975, the Congress passed Public Law (P.L.) 94-171. This law requires the Census Bureau to make special preparations to provide redistricting data to the 50 states no later than April 1 of the year following a census (so April 1, 2011, for the 2010 Census). P.L. 94-171 specifies that within 1 year of Census Day, the Census Bureau must send each state the small-area data the state will need to redraw districts for the state legislature.

P.L. 94-171 sets up a voluntary program between the Census Bureau and those states that wish to receive population tabulations for voting districts and other state-specified geographic areas.

Under this program, those responsible for the legislative apportionment or redistricting of each state may devise a plan identifying the voting districts for which they want the specific tabulations and submit it to the Census Bureau.

Beginning in 2005, the Redistricting Data Office of the Census Bureau met with state officials in 46 states. These meetings explained the timeline and programs available for the 2010 Census, providing states the time to prepare and allocate resources in advance of the census. The states also provided the Census Bureau with valuable feedback on census program planning.

The 2010 Census Redistricting Data Program is a five-phase program. During Phase 1 (2005–2006), the Census Bureau collected state legislative district boundaries and associated updates to tabulate legislative districts. This phase also included an aggressive 2010 Census communications plan, with visits to state capitals, to make sure the states were informed and prepared for the upcoming census.

Phase 2 (2008–2010) consisted of the Voting District/Block Boundary Suggestion Project (VTD/BBSP) in which states received TIGER/Line® shapefiles and the MAF/TIGER Partnership Software (MTPS) to electronically collect voting district boundaries, feature updates, suggested block boundaries, and corrected state legislative district boundaries. Both Phase 1 and Phase 2 are voluntary programs that include a step where the state verifies the submitted data.

Phase 3 constitutes the delivery of the data for the 2010 Census. The Census Bureau will deliver the geographic and data products to the majority and minority leadership in the state legislatures, the governors, and any designated P.L. 94-171 liaisons. Once bipartisan receipt of the data is confirmed, the data will be made available online to the public within 24 hours through the American FactFinder. For this census, the P.L. 94-171 data will include population counts for small areas within each state, as well as housing occupied/vacancy counts.

After the Census Bureau provides the data, the states will begin their redistricting. States are responsible for delineating their own congressional and legislative boundaries and their legislatures. Legislatures, secretaries of state, governors, and/or redistricting commissions carry out the process.  

Go to www.census.gov for the complete article …

Republicans on the floor of Congress continue to stall, block, scale down bills, and or add nasty amendments no one could vote for in good faith while providing misinformation and misinterpretation to the public any chance they can. We the People, cannot afford to vote for politicians who put Political Party and Money over doing the People’s business; though Republicans would have the public believe it is in our best interest. We must remember that Speaker Boehner said, his main concern was jobs jobs jobs among other things… the question is how many jobs bills did Republicans bring to the floor, how many Senate jobs bills were rejected and how many awful amendments were attached. Yes, this voter is biased, but I don’t think it’s in the best interest of Americans to side with the party of no; people need to make the effort to listen to what and how bills are handled by Republicans.

We need and must move into the 21st Century if we plan to get back on track and to do so Republicans must accept that PBO won a second term, has earned the right to govern … Americans … 53% of us said YES to his ideas, policies and desire to move forward.

However …

Instead, POTUS continues to spend time on cleaning up the crap the House of Bush left …Sadly,  we will never ever know exactly what all Barack Obama had planned for our country,but if you dissect the moves the votes the actions of Republican members of Congress … you might think hmmm was this the intent?

Contrary to what went on in both Chambers of Congress, it is obvious that this is NOT what President Elect Barack Obama had in mind when he ran for office ~~ Think about it,  Republican leaders met& decided to be the Party of NO. POTUS either gets no reporting on his accomplishments or has to battle with the Media and it hasn’t been POTUS friendly reporting! I ask folks to contrast&compare it to the primaries because the media gained the reputation of having a love fest with Obama … was that ever true or

For your information, wiki states, “Gerrymandering is effective because of the wasted vote effect.

So, what does Packing and Cracking mean to you …


~ Packing opposition voters into districts (concentrate as many voters of one type -( maybe party&race ) means they already win and by …

~ Cracking the remainder among districts where they are moved into the minority (increasing votes for eventual losers), the number of wasted votes among the opposition can be maximized. Similarly, with supporters holding narrow margins in the unpacked districts, the number of wasted votes among supporters is minimized.

The Etymology

First printed in March 1812, the political cartoon above was drawn in reaction to the state senate electoral districts drawn by the Massachusetts legislature to favour the Democratic-Republican Party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists.

The caricature satirises the bizarre shape of a district in Essex County, Massachusetts as a dragon-like “monster.”

Federalist newspapers editors and others at the time likened the district shape to a salamander, and the word gerrymander was a blend of that word and Governor Gerry‘s last name.

Resources: www.Census.gov
 and Wiki
Voters who believe in Equality in all its forms …
We Must Stand & Stay in LINE
Mid-term Elections Matter
~~ Nativegrl77
written 4/7/2013

To: North Carolina State Legislature Fair Voting Districts Now !


Contact Campaign Creator

Campaign created by
Bob Hall
Fair Voting Districts Now !

Draw political district maps that are fair and open, avoids racial or partisan gerrymandering!

Why is this important?

North Carolina has a long history of lawmakers drawing voting districts in ways that weaken the political power of voters, especially Black voters. Drawing bad districts can disenfranchise voters, just like the Jim Crow poll tax and North Carolina’s recent election changes that a court said “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The current NC General Assembly districts were drawn to pack Black voters into a small number of districts and also separate them from progressive whites to prevent “fusion” coalitions from winning more seats in the legislature. A growing coalition is fighting back, just as we are fighting against North Carolina’s voter suppression laws.

Right now, Black legislators and their allies have introduced multiple bills in the NC General Assembly that would reform the redistricting process. The bills complement the litigation and grassroots organizing for fair districts. We must support this effort to make sure voters can pick their political representatives, not the other way around.

We urge the NC General Assembly to adopt a redistricting process that:

-Abides by the federal Voting Rights Act and avoids racial or partisan bias;
-Provides for deep involvement from local communities to ensure that all voices are respected.
-Uses best practices from across the nation to draw district maps that reflect NC’s diverse population.

By following these principles, North Carolina lawmakers can protect our voting rights, ensure that Black voters are fairly represented, and create a state that values all voices.