Redistricting FAQs and Available Resources

Redistricting FAQs and Available Resources

What is Redistricting?

Every decade, after the census takes place, states draw new district maps for congressional and state legislative districts. The process for drawing these new maps varies for every state, but all states must redraw the districts with the new population data from the census.

Redistricting Fundamentals – A nonpartisan guide to redistricting

Why do we do Redistricting?

The US constitution requires that states redraw district lines to make sure the new population numbers are reflected in our congressional and state representatives’ districts. If people move around in the state or relocate to other states, this also impacts how the districts are drawn. If a state loses overall population numbers, then they will have less representatives in Congress. Ohio has lost a seat this year, so our total congressional districts will now be down from 16 to 15. This is also called apportionment (see next question).

All About Redistricting in Ohio – A summary of laws and criteria for redistricting in Ohio

Redistricting in Ohio – From Ballotpedia, the Encyclopedia of American Politics

What is Apportionment? 

Apportionment of Congressional seats is in the US Constitution. The US Census Bureau is tasked with counting all the people in the United States every ten years. This department conducted the 2020 Census and is now tasked with one of their most important jobs, apportionment. The Census Bureau will first determine the total population of the United States and then apportion or determine how many seats in the US House of Representatives each state will receive for the following decade (2021-2031). 

“What is Apportionment?” video

What is the Process for Redistricting?

There are two different processes for redistricting in Ohio. The rules for these processes were created by the new redistricting reforms passed in 2015 and 2018. Congressional districts will have their own rules and so will the Ohio Senate and House. 

Our New Redistricting Process in Ohio – A summary provided by Common Cause Ohio

Guide to Ohio Redistricting – Composed by the Brennan Center for Justice

New rules for congressional redistricting now in the Ohio Constitution

New rules for state legislative redistricting now in the Ohio Constitution

What is Partisan Gerrymandering?

Gerrymandering occurs when legislative districts are drawn to intentionally favor one political party over the other. Traditionally, the political party in power in the state legislature has drawn districts to disadvantage the other party. Elected officials of both political parties have marginalized the other party, but the ability to gerrymander and truly manipulate district lines has accelerated because of the use of computers for map-making. The term gerrymander comes from a political cartoon drawn in 1812 of a newly created district that was shaped like a salamander. This district was approved by Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry. Gerrymandering is a palindrome of “Gerry” and the last syllable of salamander. 

There are two primary ways that map-makers gerrymander: packing and cracking. Packing involves putting as many voters as possible of the opposite political party in the same district so that the opponent simply has fewer seats. Cracking focuses on dividing communities so that they favor the opposing party so that those votes are overwhelmed by the opposition. 

“Gerrymandering: How drawing jagged lines can impact an election” video

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