Redistricting Bill Roundup 2015

The next round of redistricting is still more than five years away, but, with an eye toward the clock, legislatures around the country are already busy considering a variety of the proposals that would tweak — or in some cases make wholesale changes to — how redistricting is done in 2021. In fact, since January of this year, state lawmakers have filed no fewer than 89 redistricting-related bills.

This map tracks those bills and shows a robust, creative national debate taking place about the best approaches to redistricting. Highlights include:

  • 7 states with bills that would count incarcerated persons at their last known address instead of within the district where they are incarcerated for census purposes;
  • 23 states with bills that would articulate standards to be applied to the redistricting process, such as requiring compact district shapes and preservation of communities of interest;
  • 23 states with bills that would establish requirements for transparency or public engagement in the redistricting process;
  • 20 states with bills to create or amend the structure of a redistricting commission.

The diversity of the approaches taken by these bills is exemplified by the more than 20 proposals for redistricting commissions. Some bills provide for selection of commission members by legislators but others would give a governor or the state supreme court exclusive power to appoint members. Still others would require commission membership of former judges and one proposal would limit membership exclusively to public university professors. Some commissions would have final authority to enact district maps while others would require approval of commission-drawn maps by the state legislature. Some commissions, likewise, would require a majority to enact a redistricting plan while others would require a supermajority.

Not all of these bills will pass, of course. But for any to take effect in time for the redistricting in 2021, legislatures likely will need to pass them soon. These numerous and diverse bills are an important part of a national dialogue about redistricting that is as urgent as ever.

States with Redistricting Bills Introduced in 2015

*Research provided by David Jastrab, Brennan Center Public Policy Advocacy Clinic Student

Status Key: 

Bill introduced in 2015

More from Brennan Center: 
Map of North Carolina

So far this decade, the Supreme Court has not really weighed in on redistricting. But two cases this term are set to change that — and could result in a renewed freedom for politicians to manipulate maps for partisan or self-serving purposes.