A 50 State Guide to Redistricting

May 23, 2011

This supplement to the Brennan Center's Citizen's and Media Guides to Redistricting contains simple and accessible information on how the redistricting process is conducted in each of the 50 states.

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Members of Congress, state legislators, and many city council and school board members are elected from districts. At least once per decade, the district lines are redrawn, block by block. The way in which district lines are drawn puts voters together in groups — some voters are kept together in one district, while others are separated into different districts. And in our system, whichever group has more votes within a district usually decides which representative wins.

The way the lines are drawn can keep a community together or split it apart, and can change whether a community has representatives who feel responsible for its concerns. The way the district lines are drawn can impact who wins an election. Ultimately, the way the lines are drawn can change who controls the governing body, and can also change which policies get passed into law.

The process for redrawing district lines is obscure, technical and varies from state to state. It is often done behind closed doors, far from the public eye. However, few decisions made by elected officials have as lasting an impact on the way we are governed. Secretive and unfair redistricting can have a huge impact on how decisions get made in local, state, and national policy. We all have an obligation to try to make the process more open and accessible.

This guide contains simple and accessible information on how each state manages the legislative and congressional redistricting process. We hope that you will use this resource to get involved in the redistricting process in your area.

50 State Guide to Redistricting