Who is responsible for redrawing legislative districts in Midwestern states and provinces?
In all but two Midwestern states, redrawing and approving district maps is left up to the legislatures and governors.
In Ohio, redistricting for the state legislature is conducted by a five-member panel consisting of the governor, the state auditor, the secretary of state, and two other members — one appointed each by legislative leaders of the majority and minority parties. The plan does not need to be approved by the legislature, and the governor does not have veto power.
Some Ohio lawmakers have proposed changing the makeup of the State Apportionment Board in order to make it more bipartisan. Ideas include naming leaders of the four legislative caucuses to the board, as well as asking legislative leaders to appoint an equal number of members of their political parties, then jointly name the remaining members.
Iowa uses a unique process, directing its nonpartisan Legislative Service Bureau to come up with a redistricting plan. The bureau is required by law to disregard incumbents’ addresses, political affiliations of voters, previous election results or other demographic information (except basic population counts) when drawing the maps.
After staff has developed a map, the plan must be approved or rejected, without modification, by the legislature. If the legislature fails to approve two plans, it may amend the third map as it would any other bill. The plan must also be approved by the governor.
Illinois uses a “backup commission” if lawmakers cannot agree on a redistricting plan by June 30 of the year following the census. The eight-member commission is appointed by the majority and minority leaders in both legislative chambers. If that commission fails to approve a plan, a ninth person is randomly selected to break the deadlock and allow the plan to move forward. The random selection involves choosing from two people, one from each major political party.
An Illinois reform commission has proposed turning over responsibility for drawing new maps to an independent consulting firm, whose plans would be subject to legislative approval.
In recent years, several other Midwestern states have considered proposals to change the way legislative districts are reapportioned. Last year in Kansas, for example, legislation (SB 291) was introduced to adopt a process similar to the one used in Iowa. Legislators in Indiana have said that in 2010, they will study methods used in other states and possibly consider turning over the task to an independent body. The change would require a constitutional amendment.
Bills to create redistricting commissions were also introduced this year in Minnesota (SF 182) and South Dakota (HB 1291).
In 1955, Manitoba became the first Canadian province to turn over redistricting responsibility to a nonpartisan commission; the country’s nine other provinces have since followed suit. Legislative districts, or “ridings,” in Manitoba were last redrawn in 2008. The legislative boundary commission is made up of the chief justice of Manitoba, three university presidents, and the chief electoral officer of the province.
In Saskatchewan, members of the three-person Constituency Boundaries Commission are appointed by the province’s lieutenant governor. The commission is made up of a chairperson (typically a judge or judge’s designee) and two residents; legislators are not eligible to participate. The province will complete its next redistricting in 2012.
With the exception of 11 northern constituencies, legislative boundaries for the Ontario Legislative Assembly are identical to those laid out for federal legislative seats. Those districts are not automatically reviewed and remain in effect until the federal boundaries are adjusted or new legislation is passed by the provincial legislature.
The Mission of CSG
and CSG Midwest
The Council of State Governments is the nation's only nonpartisan association of state officials serving all three branches of government in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. CSG is a regionally-based, national organization that promotes excellence in state government. CSG fosters the interstate exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy, and it offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships. CSG Midwest focuses on meeting the needs of state policymakers and leaders in the nation's heartland, including 11 Midwestern states.