|State Boundaries||Drawn by legislature with advisory commission|
Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays
State LegislativeAlert: High
|Final Map Deadline||2021-08-15|
Vermont's state legislative districts are drawn by the Legislature by ordinary statute, and are subject to the Governor's veto. The Legislature can override vetoes with a two-thirds vote in each chamber. Vermont has only one at-large congressional district, so there is no congressional redistricting.
Vermont statutes (Stat. § 1904) call for a seven-member advisory commission, the Legislative Apportionment Board, to make recommendations to the Legislature, which the Legislature can accept, modify, or reject entirely. The Governor chooses one commissioner from each major party (Democrats, Republicans, Progressives), the chairs of those parties each choose one commissioner, and the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court appoints a special master to serve as chair.
In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Vermont’s state constitution (Ch. II §§ 13, 18) requires that state legislative districts be compact, contiguous, and preserve political subdivisions. Vermont’s state statutes (17 Stat. § 1903) further require that districts preserve communities of interest, defined as “patterns of geography, social interaction, trade, political ties, and common interests.” Incumbency may be considered in drawing lines.
Vermont’s state statutes (17 Stat. § 1906(a)) require that the final plan for districts “be available for public inspection.” In the last redistricting cycle, both the House Government Operations Committee and the Legislative Apportionment Board held public hearings in late 2011, and similar opportunities are likely in 2021.
Within 30 days of the enactment of a redistricting plan, any five or more aggrieved voters are entitled under the law to petition the state Supreme Court for review of the plan.
In the 2011 redistricting cycle, the Legislative Apportionment Board drafted plans that eliminated multi-member districts in favor of creating more single-member districts. In reaching this decision, the advisory commission received extensive feedback from local Boards of Civil Authority. Ultimately, however, the Legislature chose to largely abandon the proposed plans of the commission in favor of more modest adjustments to the existing legislative districts.
Vermont’s state statutes allow for the protection of incumbents in redistricting. In the 2011 cycle, lawmakers resisted the advisory commission’s plans in part due to concerns over the pairing of incumbents within the same district. This deference to incumbent residence prioritizes the security of lawmakers over the fair representation of the voters.
In 2021, participate in the public input process.
- Obtain Vermont 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 advisory commission and Legislature start 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.
Read the Common Cause Activist Handbook on Redistricting Reform to learn about what reforms have been successful in the past, and what steps to take to enact reform in the future. While Vermont’s advisory commission is better than full legislative control, there is still potential for further reform to create a truly independent redistricting commission.