The Voting Rights Project - The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law | The Voting Rights Project's Redistricting Program

The Voting Rights Project's Redistricting Program

The Lawyers' Committee's Voting Rights Project's Redistricting Program seeks to ensure that minority voters have every opportunity to engage in the redistricting process in order to safeguard the decades-long progress made against widespread disenfranchisement and exclusion from engagement in the process. The program will monitor the redistricting cycle in states covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  Additionally, it will actively engage in the redistricting process in the following states: ArkansasCaliforniaFloridaGeorgia, IllinoisMarylandMississippiNew YorkPennsylvaniaTexas, and Virginia.  However, because it is difficult to predict where the greatest need will be, the Voting Rights Project does not preclude working in other states if our assistance is requested.  The focus of our participation will be on Congressional, statewide, and local redistricting.

To learn more, please click on the following links to jump to materials on redistrictingwhy it's importantways you can get involvedhow the Lawyers' Committee can help you (with additional details on the various components of our program), and to access  publications and resources (including state-specific information and news on redistricting) related to the Voting Rights Project's Redistricting Program. 

What is redistricting?

Redistricting is the process of redrawing local, state, and congressional electoral districts in response to new census data to ensure that the districts have equal numbers of people.  Beginning in 2011, all states will start the process of reviewing newly released census data to determine how to redraw electoral lines to ensure compliance with the constitutional mandate of one-person, one-vote. See the chart below to learn the results of the 2010 Census and more about previous Census cycles.

Why is redistricting important?

  1. Redistricting applies to all electoral boundaries.
  2. Redistricting often has a major impact on who is able to win elections, so it impacts all types of legislative decisions, e.g. those related to passage of laws and approval of funding or projects within your community.
  3. Revised district boundaries usually remain in effect for ten years and citizen participation in the redistricting process is needed to ensure that the new boundaries provide fair electoral opportunities for all.

Ways You Can Get Involved

  • Learn who will decide which new boundaries are adopted: Focus on the right decision-makers.
  • Look for partners and identify your community of interest: There are many competing voices in redistricting and having partners who share your interests and goals can help your voice be heard.
  • Suggest improvements and identify problems: Decision-makers need to hear from you about how district boundaries treat your community.
  • Get needed technical support: Redistricting often involves complicated population and legal issues.  Proposed redistricting plans need to meet legal requirements and represent your community fairly.
  • Comment to the Department of Justice: If your state or county is covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, you will have 60 days to support or oppose a proposed redistricting plan after it has been submitted to DOJ for preclearance.

How the Lawyers' Committee Can Help You

The Lawyers' Committee can help you make the most of your involvement in the redistricting process by providiing:

  • Education.  We will provide basic information about how redistricting works, how grassroots organizations can monitor and/or participate in the process, and what resources are available to support their full involvement.  Also, the we have created a publically available searchable index of every Section 5 objection letter ever issued by the Department of Justice, approximately forty percent (40%) of which were issued by DOJ in response to redistricting plans.  For access to this unique and essential reference click here.
  • Plan support.  We will provide technical and legal assistance regarding process and procedures used by states and localities during redistricting including working with community advocates to provide the assistance needed to assist in the creation and evaluation of redistricting plans.
  • DOJ Review Process.   We will monitor redistricting plans submitted Section 5 review to Department of Justice and provide comments when necessary.  We may also participate in declaratory judgments before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking approval of redistricting plans.
  • Litigation Support.  We will engage in litigation should we determine it is necessary to protect minority voting rights during the redistricting process

The Voting Rights Project staff of the Lawyers' Committee has decades of experience in voting rights advocacy and extensive knowledge of the redistricting process. 

Publications and Resources

Please click here for the Lawyers' Committee's Redistricting Brochure.

Please visit the following links for more information on redistricting in general as well as in Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. 

For more information on how to get involved with the 
Voting Rights Project or its redistricting program, please contact:

Practical Progressive - Official Selection 2008