Redistricting in Idaho


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Redistricting: The action of a state legislature or other body in redrawing legislative electoral district lines following a new population census. -- The American Political Dictionary, 11th ed.


Why redraw legislative and congressional district lines? To accommodate the constitutional principle of "one person = one vote." The U.S. Supreme Court has held that no one's vote should be diluted to count less than the vote of a person in another district.

What districts are being redrawn? Redistricting does not alter county lines, taxing district lines, or voter precinct lines. It is only the Congressional and State Legislative Districts that are being redrawn. However, the boundaries of other types of districts are used as one factor in determining where to draw the legislative and congressional district lines.

When will redistricting take place? On June 7, 2011, the Idaho Secretary of State will issue an order convening the Commission on Reapportionment. From the date of that order, the Commission has 90 days to create new legislative and congressional districts for Idaho. This means the final plans must be filed by September 4, 2011.

Who will serve on the Commission? The Commission will have six members: one to be appointed by the House Speaker, one to be appointed by the Senate Pro Tem, one to be appointed by the House Minority Leader, one to be appointed by the Senate Minority Leader, one to be appointed by the Chairman of the Idaho Republican Party, and one to be appointed by the Idaho Democratic Party. This commission, made up of non-legislator citizens, is charged with the task of redrawing the Idaho legislative districts. In most states, the legislators themselves redraw the legislative districts and this was true in Idaho up until the mid-1990s, when Idaho citizens voted to amend the Idaho Constitution to have non-legislator citizens do the work instead. In 2001, the first Idaho citizens' Commission on Reapportionment convened to draw legislative districts, and in 2011, a new citizens' commission will be formed for just the second time in our history.

Who may be appointed a Commissioner? A commissioner must be a registered Idaho voter. A commissioner may not within the past 2 years have been an elected official or officer in a legislative district, county or state party (precinct committee persons are OK). Commissioners may not serve in the Legislature for 5 years following redistricting. Commissioners may not within the past year have been a registered lobbyist. A commissioner may not be a candidate for political office while serving as a commissioner.

How does the Commission do its work? What used to be done with paper maps and markers is now done on computers. We have purchased a program designed just for this purpose, "Maptitude for Redistricting." Essentially, we will divide the new total population of Idaho by 35, which is the highest number of legislative districts allowed by law in Idaho. That number provides us with the number of people that each legislative district should contain. The computer allows you to add or subtract small blocks of geography to or from a district, telling you how many people you have just added or subtracted by doing that.

Will the Commission's meetings be open to the public? Yes.

Will the Commission accept plan suggestions from the public? Yes. Using Maptitude for Redistricting Online, a member of the public, on his or her own computer, can draw and submit legislative or congressional district plans to the Commission. For guidelines on submitting plans in other formats, please contact the Commission's Technical Staff.

How many votes are needed to approve a redistricting plan? At least 4 of the 6 commissioners must vote in favor of a plan.

Can the Legislature amend the redistricting plan? No.

Can the Governor veto the redistricting plan? No.

Can the plan be challenged? Only by filing an action in the Idaho Supreme Court. The Idaho Supreme Court is the only authority that can amend or invalidate a plan once it has been approved by the Commission for Reapportionment and filed with the Secretary of State's Office.

Where can I read the legal requirements for the Commission? The Commission is governed by Article 3 of the Idaho Constitution, Sections 2, 4 and 5. Further details are in Title 72, Chapter 15 of the Idaho Code.

How was the Commission created? Prior to 1994, the Legislature was responsible for redrawing its own districts. In 1993, the Legislature passed SJR 105, creating a constitutional citizen's body that would instead be responsible for drawing the districts. The voters of Idaho passed that constitutional amendment in 1994, with 64% in favor and 36% against. You can view a copy of 1993 SJR 105 here, as well as a copy of the pertinent part of the 1994 voter's pamphlet here.

Whom may I contact for more information? Contact Legislative Services Office staff Kristin Ford (208-334-4863 or kford@lso.idaho.gov) or Keith Bybee (208-334-4739 or kbybee@lso.idaho.gov).