Over the last few weeks, I have talked about various issues that are essentially on the ballot this November. Another issue is redistricting. Now that the census is coming to an end, it will be the responsibility of state legislatures and state commissions to redraw the boundaries of congressional districts and other legislative districts. The candidates you elect to the state legislature will determine how they draw the lines of those districts.
It appears that seven states will lose a congressional seat: Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. States like Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Texas, and Virginia will gain seats. The legislatures in states with more than one congressional seat will adjust their district’s boundaries to account for the changes in population in the last decade.
States that will lose a House seat will have to combine district boundaries. States that will gain one or more seats will be able to shuffle populations as they create additional congressional districts.
Redistricting can also determine who controls Congress. That was evident in the 1994 congressional elections due to the redistricting that took place after the 1990 census. Republicans gained more than two dozen seats and would NOT have won the House without those additional seats.
There is also a financial implication to redistricting. A district can be gerrymandered so that it is safe for an incumbent. It turns out that a congressional race for a noncompetitive seat costs less than half of what it would cost for a competitive House race. Moving districts from competitive to non-competitive will save political parties millions of dollars.
Your vote this November will determine how your state legislature or commission draws those congressional districts.