These resources are designed to help you better understand redistricting. You can use them to inform yourself, friends and family about the process. We hope theses resources also will be used by school districts in civics education. Resources include:
What is Redistricting?
- In December 2020, the Census Bureau delivers apportionment counts to the President and Congress and then the states use this information to redistrict.
- Congressional, state legislative and municipal district boundaries are drawn every 10 years following completion of the U.S. Census to ensure that districts have about the same number of people.
- In Nebraska, the state Legislature is currently responsible for redrawing district lines.
- Other states use independent political commissions.
What is Gerrymandering?
- Gerrymandering is the process of dividing up and redrawing lines to favor one political party or class of people.
- Political parties sometimes draw lines for their own benefit instead of being proportional and fair.
- Gerrymandering may include packing — drawing districts in such a way as to ensure that another party’s candidate wins that seat by a tremendous margin. Although the opposing party is all but guaranteed the seat, packing makes surrounding districts less competitive and thus tips the balance of power in the legislative body overall toward the majority party.
- Gerrymandering may include cracking — drawing districts in such a way as to divide a concentration of specific types of voters across several districts so that they are a minority in each one, with practically no hope of achieving representation in any of the districts. This practice also helps make districts less competitive.
Current Nebraska Legislature Rules on Redistricting
These are the current rules defining the redistricting process in Nebraska. They can be found in the Rule Book, under Rule 3, Sec. 6.
Sec. 6. Redistricting Committee. (a) The Redistricting Committee of the Legislature shall be established as a special committee of the Legislature in January of each year ending in one. The committee is authorized to introduce and exercise jurisdiction over legislative bills and resolutions relating to redistricting and hold hearings regarding such legislation.
(b) The committee shall be comprised of nine members of the Legislature, three from each congressional district existing on January 1 of each year ending in zero. The Executive Board shall appoint the members of the committee in January of each year ending in one. No more than five members appointed to the committee shall be affiliated with the same political party. A vacancy on the committee shall be filled by the Executive Board as soon as possible after the vacancy occurs.
(c) At the first meeting of the committee, the members shall select from among themselves by majority vote one member to serve as chairperson of the committee and one member to serve as vice chairperson of the committee. The chair and vice chair shall not be a member of the same political party.
(d) The committee shall continue in existence until all bills containing redistricting plans for which the Legislature has responsibility are passed and signed by the Governor. In the event of a successful legal challenge to any part of a redistricting plan, the committee shall be reconstituted for purposes of reformulating the challenged redistricting plan.
(e) The committee shall receive staff support from the office of the director of Legislative Research.
(f) The committee shall, after reviewing previous redistricting guidelines used by the Legislature, adopt substantive and procedural guidelines that will guide the Legislature’s redistricting process. During the legislative session of each year ending in one, the substantive guidelines adopted by the committee shall be presented to the Legislature for approval.
(g) The committee shall at the earliest feasible time make available to the public the substantive guidelines prepared by the committee.
(h) The committee, with approval of a majority of its members, may introduce bills at any time during the legislative session of each year ending in one.
(i) Based upon the information received from the United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, the committee shall formulate redistricting plans for congressional districts and other districts. The statistics and redistricting plans shall be made available to the Legislature and the public.
(j) After the statistics and redistricting plans are made available to the Legislature and the public, the committee shall schedule and conduct, as expeditiously as reasonably possible, at least one public hearing in each congressional district for the purposes of soliciting input on the proposed redistricting plans. Video and other methods may be used in addition to the procedures outlined for public hearings but not in substitution for such procedures.
(k) In addition to the above procedures, legislation introduced for the purpose of complying with the decennial redistricting process in years ending in one, shall follow the normal procedures for any legislation introduced in the Nebraska Legislature.
History of Legislative Redistricting in Nebraska
Brennan Center for Justice, Yurij Rudensky & Annie Lip, December 12, 2019 https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/policy-solutions/better-way-draw-districts
“After the census every 10 years, states redraw legislative and congressional district boundaries. This is often a fraught process, with massive potential for abuse. Most states currently draw districts through their ordinary legislative process, though there are a number of variations. Typically, each chamber of the state legislature passes maps by a simple majority vote, and the governor can veto the result. Problems arise when state government is controlled by a single party. Even if the advantage is slim, the redistricting process can then be subverted for partisan gain or to discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities, with maps drawn behind closed doors and with little or no public input. Independent redistricting commissions are an effective solution against such abuses. But some work better than others. The success of a commission depends largely on its structure and its internal system of checks and balances. Carefully designing a commission to promote core values like independence, inclusivity, good-faith negotiation, and transparency is critical to fair redistricting that protects community interests and guards against partisan and racial gerrymandering . . .”
“This page is about redistricting in Nebraska. In 2011, Nebraska had three Congressional seats and 49 seats in its unicameral legislature to consider. Internal population shifts and the possibility of expanding the legislature were key questions. Three counties singlehandedly account for 54% of the Nebraska population and the overall trend in the past decade was for population concentration to shift eastward, something that understandably concerned residents of the vast western expanses. The legislature passed Congressional and legislative maps for the final time on May 26, 2011.”
https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/redistricting-maps/nebraska/#Compact Published Jan. 25, 2018
“There’s a lot of complaining about gerrymandering, but what should districts look like? We went back to the drawing board and drew a set of alternative congressional maps for the entire country. Each map has a different goal: One is designed to encourage competitive elections, for example, and another to maximize the number of majority-minority districts. See how changes to district boundaries could radically alter the partisan and racial makeup of the U.S. House — without a single voter moving or switching parties . . .”.
“Iowa is among the states where the legislature has responsibility, but its method is unique: nonpartisan staff draw the lines with a nonpartisan approach. This webpage is a synopsis of how the “Iowa System” works.
https://lwvnebraska.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/LWVUS-2018-20-Impact-on-Issues.pdf, Impact on Issues 2018-2020 Edition
“The League of Women Voters believes responsibility for redistricting preferably should be vested in an independent special commission, with membership that reflects the diversity of the unit of government, including citizens at large, representatives of public interest groups, and members of minority groups. . .”
The purpose of this report is to empower state legislators, good government advocates, activists, and members of redistricting commissions with the tools and knowledge needed to ensure that their respective redistricting processes are transparent and accountable, and that members of the public at-large and communities of interest can provide meaningful input during the redistricting cycle.
“Use this tool to amplify your voice. You can draw your community. Communities of Interest (COIs) are groups or neighborhoods with significant shared interests that deserve consideration by representatives. Many states have rules that indicates that COIs should be kept whole by districting plans whenever possible”. Try your hand at districting with this tool.
“For the next 10 years, the federal government will rely on the collected 2020 census data to help guide distribution of$1.5 trillion dollars in annual spending across 316 federal programs”. See how you state is impacted with the Importance of the 2020 Census, Explained in Dollars and Cents.
The Redistricting Song
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