What Is Redistricting?


Quick Answer

Redistricting is the act of creating new boundaries around electoral districts. Its purpose is equalizing population counts to avoid inequalities in terms of Constitutionally-mandated equal protection laws. The redistricting system has been in place since the 1960s, and it occurs approximately every 10 years or so. Calculations for establishing new boundaries rely on population data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Full Answer

Redistricting is a necessary component of fair elections; districts devoted to state, county and municipal use require it, as do school districts. Jurisdictions using districts for election purposes must also redistrict by law in order to satisfactorily comply with the "one person, one vote” rule, which guarantees that any single citizen's vote is as worthwhile as the next.

Legislative entities may draw their own boundaries, but other districts require a commission or similar planning committee to establish acceptable dividing lines. Legality on creating boundaries varies from state to state, and case to case.

In California, for example, Boards of Supervisors members are tasked with redrawing their own legislative boundaries; should they fail to do so, a county commission steps in and makes the decision instead. At state level in California, the Citizens Redistricting Commission determines districts. Tthe commission oversees districts for the State Senate and Assembly, the Board of Equalization, and California’s 53 seats in Congress.

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