Redistricting is the redrawing of legislative and congressional district lines following the U.S. decennial census. The U.S. and Missouri Constitutions require the lines be redrawn to create districts that are almost equal in population.
How is redistricting different than reapportionment?
The U.S. Constitution prescribed the first census in 1790 and the most recent census on April 1, 2010. Its fundamental aim, then and now, is to ensure that each state´s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives reflects its population as compared to other states. Apportionment is the process of determining how many of the 435 representative seats each state is entitled to. On the other hand, redistricting is the act of giving new boundaries to those representative districts.
Over the course of the previous decade, population growth in this country seems to be shifting from the North and Northeast to the South and West. Prior to the 2010 Census, Missouri had nine Congressional representative districts. However, recent Census announcements have indicated that number will be reduced to eight.
Who does redistricting and when is it done?
In Missouri, the job of Congressional redistricting is the responsibility of the General Assembly. The job of redrawing the state´s 34 Senate districts and 163 House districts are assigned to two bipartisan commissions appointed by the Governor. Failure by either or both Commissions places the responsibility of state legislative redistricting in the hands of an appellate commission appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court.
In Missouri, Congressional redistricting shall be completed by the end of the legislative session following the release of the apportionment population counts. This decade that deadline is May 13, 2011. Legislative redistricting must be completed based on a timeline set forth in the Missouri Constitution. Within 60 days from the date the state population counts are delivered to the President, the names of persons nominated to serve on both the Senate and House Redistricting Commissions must be delivered to the Governor. For the state´s Senate Redistricting Commission, the state committees of the two political parties who gained the highest number of votes in the previous gubernatorial election shall nominate ten members to serve as Commissioners. The Governor must then select five members from each party´s list to total ten Commissioners. Commissioners tasked with redistricting the state House districts are also chosen in a similar fashion. Congressional district committees of the same two political parties must nominate two members to serve as Commissioners from their Congressional districts. This process is repeated for each of the nine Congressional districts. From these nominations, the Governor selects one member of each party from each Congressional district giving the Commission a total of eighteen members. Both Commissions must be appointed within 30 days from the date the members were nominated.
Each Commission must meet on the 15th day after the date of appointment (excluding Sundays and holidays) to schedule public hearing dates and elect a Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Secretary. Also running from the date of appointment, the Commissions have five months in which to file tentative plans with the Secretary of State. If either of the Commissions can agree on a tentative plan during this time, more hearings are held across the state to receive public opinion regarding the plans. The final statement must then be filed with the Secretary of State within six months of the date of appointment. If either of the Commission does NOT agree on a tentative plan then the Missouri Supreme Court must appoint six members from among the judges of the appellate courts of the state to determine a final statement of plan(s) within 90 days from the date of discharge of the original commission. It is possible that one of the commissions file a final statement of the numbers and boundaries of the districts while the other commission is dissolved and its task of redistricting be passed to the commission of appellate judges.
How does Missouri´s redistricting process differ from other states?
There is no federal law outlining procedures that must be followed during each state’s respective redistricting process. Therefore, state laws and constitutions determine redistricting processes in the United States. The majority of states choose to use the ordinary legislative process as their method to redistrict their state legislative districts. However, 11 states (including Missouri) use specially appointed commissions while the remaining three states establish boards to complete the process or a combination of gubernatorial, legislative, and commission control over redistricting.
Relevant Constitutional Provisions and State Statutes