Tennessee
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by legislature
State BoundariesDrawn by legislature
Governor's PartyRepublican
Legislative PartyRepublican

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

State Legislative

Alert:
Low

Congressional

Alert:
Low

Process

State Legislature

Tennessee's state legislative and congressional districts are drawn by the Legislature by ordinary statute, and are subject to the Governor's veto. The Legislature can override vetoes with a simple majority vote in each chamber.

Criteria

While Tennessee, like all states, must follow the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Tennessee’s state constitution does not list additional criteria. However, Tennessee’s state statutes (Code §§ 3-1-102, 103) do require that state legislative districts be contiguous and preserve political subdivisions. There are no state law requirements for drawing congressional districts.

Public Input

Tennessee law does not require public hearings for redistricting. It does not appear that such hearings took place in 2012. However, Lieutenant Governor and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey did invite the public to submit their own maps using publicly available data. In addition, the League of Women Voters held a statewide competition offering up to $4,000 in prizes, encouraging the public to get involved in the redistricting process.

2011 Cycle

In the last cycle, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey repeatedly stated that the 2012 redistricting process was the most open and transparent in state history. While it is true that Ramsey made redistricting data more widely available, the rushed and secretive process of passing plans through the Legislature left almost no room for public input. The state legislative and congressional maps were unveiled to the public on January 4 and 6, and they were adopted on January 13.

Issues

Pitfalls

Both chambers of the Legislature and the Governorship are controlled by Republicans. Single-party control increases the risk of partisan gerrymandering.

Potential Reform

SB0003 is currently in front of the Legislature to enact the Fair Maps Act. The bill would establish ordered criteria including protections for communities of interest and political subdivisions, contiguity, and compactness, while prohibiting the consideration of incumbency and partisan data. The bill also creates a process for public review and comment, including advance notice for meetings.

Actions

In 2021, submit maps to the Office of Legal Services and attend public hearings, if held.

  • Obtain Tennessee 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 should the Legislature collect feedback in the 2021 cycle.
  • 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.

Read policy guides to inform future reform efforts.

  • Think Tennessee released a state-specific policy brief in 2019 reflecting on the issues with the last redistricting cycle, as well as best practices moving forward.
  • The Common Cause Activist Handbook on Redistricting Reform outlines what reforms have been successful in the past, and what steps to take to enact reform in the future. 

Contacts

League of Women Voters of Tennessee

Think Tennessee

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia