Now that the 2020 census is concluded, Arizona will redraw congressional and legislative district lines. This process is known as redistricting.
What is redistricting?
Redistricting is the process of redrawing boundary lines for electoral districts. At the state level, this includes congressional and legislative districts and is the focus of this information. Redistricting also occurs at the local level, which might include counties, cities and school districts. For more information on local redistricting, please contact the local jurisdiction that interests you.
Congressional and legislative district lines are redrawn every ten years, after the decennial United States census, to account for population shifts and to ensure near equal representation in government. Currently, Arizona has 9 congressional districts and 30 legislative districts. Congressional district allocation is determined by population, and changes through a process called reapportionment. Arizona is expected to gain a 10th congressional district based on the 2020 census data.
How does redistricting occur in Arizona?
The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) is established by Arizona Constitution, Article IV, Part 2, Section 1. In 2000, Arizona voters passed Proposition 106, which amended the Arizona Constitution to form a five-member commission, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC), to redraw congressional and legislative district lines after each census. Prior to the approval of Proposition 106, the legislature was responsible for drawing the congressional and legislative lines for redistricting. The AIRC is independent of the state legislature.
Who are the members of the AIRC and how are they appointed?
The current commissioners are:
David Mehl – Republican
Douglas York – Republican
Shereen Lerner – Democratic
Derrick Watchman – Democratic
Erika Schupak Neuberg – Independent, Chairwoman
Four commissioners are selected by the majority and minority leaders of the state legislature (House & Senate) from a list of 25 nominees that are nominated by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. The 25 nominees consist of 10 Republicans, 10 Democrats and 5 who are not affiliated with either major political party. The nominees come from a pool of applicants that meet the criteria set out in the Arizona Constitution.
The fifth commissioner is selected by the 4 members already appointed from the pool of nominees. The fifth commissioner cannot be registered with any party already represented on the commission and will serve as chair. A Commissioner can be removed “for substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office” by the Governor and a ⅔ vote from the state senate.
What process must the AIRC follow for redistricting?
Arizona Constitution, Article 4, pt. 2, § 1
Currently, the AIRC is meeting to hire staff and set up operations (such as obtaining office space and computer equipment) and obtain legal counsel. The AIRC will also create requests for proposals to secure mapping vendor(s).
The Census Bureau announced in February that data needed for redistricting will not be released until the end of September. The data was expected to be received by the deadline, March 31st, and was pushed to summer of 2021 and now September 30th. Potential impacts from the delay in receiving the data could be how quickly the lines are drawn, public comment periods and timing for challenging the new maps in court.
Once the data is received, the AIRC will create districts of equal population in a grid-like pattern across the state. There will be one grid map for congressional districts and another grid map for legislative districts.
Next, the AIRC will adjust the Grid using required criteria (see below) and develop draft maps for public consideration. The public comment period will be open for at least 30 days and during that time, the public can provide comments on the draft maps and even submit maps of their own for consideration. The AIRC can take into account the public comments provided and then adopt the final maps. While there is not a required deadline for the adoption of final maps, candidates must file for congressional and state legislative primary elections by April 4, 2022.
SB1107: redistricting; petition signatures; 2022 candidates is under consideration by the 55th Legislature. This bill would permit the Secretary of State to accept congressional and legislative nomination petitions from candidates under the lines used in 2020, the lines adopted by the AIRC in 2021 or lines designated by a court for 2022 elections.
What criteria is used to make adjustments to the Grid?
The AIRC shall make adjustments to Grid to draw the new boundaries using the criteria outlined below:
Impact on Voting:
Redistricting and reapportionment impacts voting – from your local school district board to the President of the United States. Redistricting is meant to ensure each individual’s vote has equal weight and can impact the identity, obligations, political agenda and competitiveness of the district. To To better understand the impacts on voting, let’s go to the very beginning of the voting process. When registering to vote, a voter must include their residential address on the form. Where a voter resides determines which precinct and districts the county recorder registers them in. This determines which candidates the voter is eligible to vote for. If a voter moves, they are required to update their voter registration with their new residential address to ensure they are voting in the districts assigned to their residential address. While the focus of this information is on redistricting for congressional and legislative districts, redistricting also occurs at the local level, impacting lines for board of supervisors, city council districts, etc. County elections officials design ballots by precinct, among other criteria, and there can be thousands of different ballot styles in the state. All of these voting boundaries impact what candidates and ballot measures will appear on the voter’s ballot.
Every even year, voters consider candidates for their congressional district and legislative district during the statewide primary and general elections. Who gets elected to office and who is able to vote for the candidates is determined in part by the district lines.
Reapportionment also impacts voting for president. The number of congressional districts a state has equates to the number of electoral college votes for that state. Arizona had 9 electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election. In 2024, Arizona could have 10 electoral votes if Arizona picks up a 10th congressional district through reapportionment.
How You Can Participate:
Voters can stay up to date on the state redistricting process by visiting https://irc.az.gov/. The AIRC is required to post a public notice and agenda prior to their meetings so the public can watch on the AIRC’s YouTube channel:
Additionally, voters can submit their feedback and even their own proposed maps to the AIRC during the public comment period.
Please contact the local jurisdiction you are interest in to participate in their redistricting process.
Updated Voter Registration Cards:
Once the final maps have been adopted, the county recorders and elections officers will update voter registration records to reflect the new lines. Voters whose districts have changed will receive a new voter registration card in the mail.
2010 Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission Website
Find my District Tool
2010 Congressional Maps
2010 Legislative Maps