Every 10 years, including this year, states redraw electoral district lines based on population data gathered in the Decennial Census. These district lines determine the electoral boundaries for representation in Congress, state legislatures, and in many county and municipal offices. This process is called 'redistricting.'
Redistricting plays a vital role in our communities and affects the daily lives of Idahoans and all Americans.
WHAT IS REDISTRICTING?
Redistricting is the process of drawing the lines of districts from which public officials are elected. When it is conducted fairly, it accurately reflects population changes and racial diversity, and is used by legislators to equitably allocate representation in Congress and state legislatures.
The redistricting process happens every 10 years following the census count.
WHAT DOES IDAHO’S REDISTRICTING PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
Idaho’s redistricting body is called the Commission for Reapportionment. It is made up of 6 members: 3 Democrat appointees and 3 Republican appointees. Once convened, the Commission has 90 days to create new legislative and congressional districts for Idaho.
HOW DOES THE COMMISSION DO ITS WORK?
The Commission for Reapportionment uses a program designed to draw maps. This program is called “Maptitude for Redistricting.” Essentially, the Commission divides the new total population of Idaho by 35 (the number of state legislative districts). That number provides a general sense for the number of people each legislative district should contain. Maptitude allows you to add or subtract small blocks of geography to or from a district. The general public can also use Maptitude and introduce maps to the Commission. You can find more information on how to use Maptitude here.
The Commission will hold public meetings throughout the state. Members of the public can submit written or oral testimony urging the Commission to adopt particular plans, or urge the Commission to keep certain communities of interest together.
WHAT IS VOTE DILUTION?
Vote dilution refers to the use of redistricting plans and other voting practices that minimize or cancel out the voting strength of particular voters, often voters of color. While race-based vote dilution is prohibited by the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, the practice continues to diminish the true political strength of communities of color in particular by fracturing those populations across multiple districts or improperly concentrating them together in a single district.
WHAT IS PRISON GERRYMANDERING IN IDAHO? WHY SHOULD IT BE ABOLISHED?
We believe that maps should reflect fair and secure opportunities for communities of interest to elect candidates of their choice. However, In Idaho, people in prison are counted as “residents” of their prison cells—despite the fact that they do not raise their families, worship, go to school, or vote in the districts where the prison is located.
This is called Prison Gerrymandering and it unfairly bolsters the voting strength of districts housing prisons while diluting the representational strength of incarcerated people’s home communities. With your help, we can put a stop to this by practice by asking Idaho’s commission to count incarcerated people at their home address.
WHY SHOULD I GET INVOLVED IN THE REDISTRICTING PROCESS?
No matter our color, background or zip code, most of us believe that voters pick our leaders, our leaders do not pick their voters. To determine how we will be represented and how funds for schools, hospitals, and other essential services will be allocated, we come together every decade to draw new district lines that give each of our votes equal weight, each of our voices equal stature, and each of our communities equal resources.