Redistricting at Mid-Cycle ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 
Brennan Center logo
The State of Play
28 states have passed new congressional maps and 29 states have passed state legislative maps, as of January 20, 2022. Meanwhile, legal fights about maps have begun in 13 states. A total of 40 cases are challenging newly passed congressional and/or legislative maps as racially discriminatory or partisan gerrymanders — or both. The Brennan Center has released two trackers you can use to keep up with the redistricting cycle. Our Redistricting Map Tracker contains links to all of the newly passed maps while our Redistricting Litigation Roundup outlines the legal cases pending over new plans.
Featured Pieces
Redistricting at Mid-Cycle
The Brennan Center has released a report assessing the first half of the redistricting cycle, and what to look out for as the fight for fair maps continues. Written by the Brennan Center’s Michael Li, Harry Black, Peter Miller, and Chris Leaverton, the report finds that “in many states, racial discrimination and extreme gerrymandering are once again prolific.” Maps are aggressively targeting communities of color, especially in the nation’s increasingly diverse suburbs. Competition is also vanishing in new maps, with the number of seats Donald Trump won by 15 points or more increasing by 30 percent in states where Republicans control redistricting. The authors write, “Should Democrats lose their majority in the U.S. House in the 2022 midterms, as many expect, their road back to a majority in 2024, 2026, or even 2028 will be harder, especially if the expanded Democratic coalition of recent years changes unexpectedly.”
You can read the report in its entirety here.
Loss of Section 5 Felt in North Carolina’s Racially Discriminatory Maps
After the Supreme Court gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in Shelby County v. Holder, North Carolina became one of several states no longer required to submit its redistricting plans for preclearance from the Justice Department. The Brennan Center’s Yurij Rudensky and Julia Boland examine the effects of that decision, finding that communities of color will have less political influence under the new maps, an effect called “retrogression.” They write, “this redistricting cycle has unleashed a monsoon of maps that undercut the voting power of communities of color.”
Featured Maps: Gerrymandering Nashville
Republican legislators in Tennessee have released their proposal for the state’s new congressional districts. Heavily Democratic Davidson County, home to Nashville, has historically been contained wholly within TN-5 (current map on left). However, in Republicans’ proposed plan (right), the county is split into three congressional districts, all of which are solidly Republican.
Rep. Jim Cooper (D), who currently represents Nashville, said that the map would transform Nashville residents, “from proud citizens of a capital city to captives inside three colonies.” Critics also say that the map is a blatant racial gerrymander, as it reduces TN-5’s Black population from nearly one-quarter to just 12 percent.
Redistricting in the News
Despite a clear national advantage in redistricting this cycle, Republicans in several states are criticizing new congressional maps, claiming they needlessly “gave up” seats they could have drawn to be solidly Republican. In some states where they control redistricting, Republicans chose to shore up incumbents instead of obtaining new seats, while others declined to make their maps too partisan to avoid litigation or felt that such blatantly partisan maps would be struck by the courts. Yet some members of the Republican base are looking at Democratic gerrymanders in states like Illinois as one reason to become more aggressive in their gerrymandering.
In separate 4–3 votes the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the new legislative and congressional maps created by the Ohio Redistricting Commission earlier this fall, deeming them illegal partisan gerrymanders. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, joined the court’s Democrats in finding that the legislative maps did not follow the Ohio Constitution’s partisan fairness requirements and that the congressional maps unduly favored Republicans and needlessly split counties in Northeast Ohio.
In her opinion on the congressional plan O’Connor wrote, “No magician’s trick can hide what the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates: the map statistically presents such a partisan advantage that it unduly favors the Republican Party.” The commission now only has a few days to reconvene and submit new legislative maps to the court for review; congressional maps are due in mid-February. You can read more about the Brennan Center’s participation in the lawsuit over Ohio’s legislative maps here.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has submitted a congressional redistricting proposal to the Senate Reapportionment Committee. The governor’s plan has received swift backlash, with critics doubting the map would comply with both the state’s partisan fairness requirements and the Voting Rights Act. Any maps that are signed into law by Gov. DeSantis will still be reviewed by the courts.
A North Carolina three-judge trial court ruled that the newly enacted congressional and legislative redistricting plans were constitutional. While the panel of judges did concede that the maps were drawn to favor Republicans, they denied that this was a violation of the state constitution, or that the maps were drawn to purposefully disenfranchise Black voters, even though the maps would likely elect fewer Black legislators. The decision is being appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments on February 2.
The New York state legislature overwhelmingly rejected the pairs of plans sent to them by the state's advisory commission. The commission now has until February 28 to send a new set of plans to the legislature. Should they reject the maps a second time, Democrats, who hold supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature, will then have an opportunity to create their own plan.
Analysis from the Public Policy Institute of California finds that the legislative maps created by California’s Citizen Redistricting Commission found a significant increase in the number of Latino-majority districts in the state, with six additional congressional districts, three new state senate districts, and three new state assembly districts. As a result, however, the number of Latino “influence” districts — districts that have an eligible Latino voting age population between 30 and 50 percent — have decreased dramatically.
You can find earlier editions of our Redistricting Roundup here.