Arizona
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by independent redistricting commission
State BoundariesDrawn by independent redistricting commission
Governor's PartyRepublican
Legislative PartyRepublican

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

Congressional

Alert:
Low

State Legislative

Alert:
Low

Process

Independent Redistricting Commission

In Arizona, the Independent Redistricting Commission, adopted in 2000 by citizen initiative, is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative districts. The full guidelines for selection of the five-member commission are outlined in the Arizona Constitution (Art. IV Pt. 2 § 1). In summary, the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments solicits applications and establishes a pool of 25 nominees. From this pool, the party leaders in both legislative chambers each appoint one member; these first four members then appoint the fifth member, an independent who serves as the commission’s chair.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Arizona’s state constitution (Art. IV Pt. 2 § 1.14-15) requires that districts be compact, contiguous, preserve communities of interest, respect geographic features and pre-existing political boundaries, and favor competitive districts. There is no protection for incumbent candidates. Party affiliation and voting history cannot be considered in creating maps, but may be used to test them.

Public Input

After releasing draft maps, the Independent Redistricting Commission must provide for a public comment period of at least 30 days, during which time both chambers of the Legislature can make recommendations. In the last cycle, the Independent Redistricting Commission held two rounds of public hearings, with a total of 45 meetings across the state between July and November 2011. The public was invited to comment on draft maps, as well as submit their own. It is likely that similar meetings will be held in 2021.

Additionally, the Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition held a public contest to encourage citizens to create their own Congressional and legislative districts; the winning maps were ultimately presented to the Commission.

2011 Cycle

Although the Independent Redistricting Commission won all litigation in the 2011 redistricting cycle, there was considerable political and legal contention:

  • The list of 25 nominees marked the first controversy, leading to resignations, re-examinations, accusations of partisan interference, and a lawsuit.
  • Attorney General Tom Horne launched an investigation into the commission over alleged procurement and open meetings violations. 
  • On November 1, 2011, Arizona’s Senate voted in favor of Governor Jan Brewer’s recommendation to impeach Colleen Mathis, the chairwoman of the commission. The Arizona Supreme Court quickly overruled the decision and reinstated Mathis, citing Brewer’s failure to demonstrate grounds for removal.
  • In Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (2016), the Supreme Court upheld the commission’s redistricting plan, finding that deviations from equal population were justified for the purpose of complying with the Voting Rights Act.
  • In Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (2015), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of using the Independent Redistricting Commission to draw district lines, instead of the Legislature. The Legislature had brought the case claiming an Elections Clause violation based on the idea that a commission created by ballot initiative unconstitutionally removes the redistricting power from the Arizona State Legislature.

Issues

Pitfalls

In the 2011 redistricting cycle, there were issue areas that brought about citizen concern, such as the lack of competitive districts and rural discrimination (all five commissioners came from the two largest urban counties). Additionally, this will be Arizona’s first cycle without the preclearance protections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which was struck down in the 2013 Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder, creating possible concern for communities of color.

Actions

Participate in the Commission’s public input process:

  • Obtain Arizona redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the commission starts collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Contacts

Arizona Redistricting Commission

League of Women Voters of Arizona

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia