NATIONAL REDISTRICTING UPDATE AS OF MAY 6, 2022

As of May 6, 2022, 40 of 44 states have now finished the once-in-a-decade redistricting process to redraw their congressional maps. Six states have only one congressional representative and therefore do not need to redistrict. Missouri and New Hampshire have yet to finalize new maps, while Kansas and New York enacted new maps, but both were struck down in court. The Florida map was approved by the state legislature in April, but civil rights groups are challenging it in court. Here is the latest on the outstanding states: 

Kansas: The map passed by Kansas’s Republican-controlled legislature creates three Republican-leaning seats and one highly competitive seat – the same as the old map. But the new map moves the partisan lean of the competitive seat from D+4 to R+3, making it significantly harder for Rep. Sharice David – Kansas’s only Democratic member of Congress – to win reelection. The map became law in February after the state legislature barely managed to override Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s veto. On April 25, a county judge struck down the new map, ruling that it dilutes the votes of Democrats and nonwhites in the state. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is appealing the decision, arguing the state Supreme Court doesn’t have a role in evaluating boundaries for federal elections. The Kansas Supreme Court will hear the appeal on May 16.  It is worth noting that five of the court’s seven members were appointed by Democratic governors.

Missouri: Missouri is the only state where the legislature has yet to put forth a redistricting map. The Missouri House and Senate have been unable to agree on a plan for months, despite Republican majorities in both chambers. In a last-ditch effort to avoid court intervention, a state House committee advanced a new plan this week. Committee members believe the new map can quickly pass the entire House and survive the Senate, all before the May 13 deadline. The new map, if adopted, would continue Republicans’ current 6-2 advantage over Democrats in the state’s House delegation. If both chambers fail to approve the map yet again, the job will likely fall to the state’s courts, though it’s uncertain exactly where a new map would be created. A series of lawsuits – from both Democratic and Republican interests – have been filed against federal and state courts over the lack of maps.

New Hampshire: On May 5, the New Hampshire House approved a congressional redistricting plan that shifts more than 40% of the state’s residents into a different district. The plan is similar to a map that previously passed the Republican-controlled legislature, but Republican Governor Chris Sununu has pledged to veto. Both of New Hampshire’s congressional seats are currently held by Democrats but are highly competitive at R+1 (1st) and D+2 (2nd). The new plan creates one safe Republican district and one safe Democratic district. The latest plan now heads to the Senate, but its fate once it reaches Gov. Sununu’s desk is anything but guaranteed. He has indicated he wants both of New Hampshire’s congressional districts to remain competitive to keep incumbents accountable. The governor even released his own map in March, which kept both districts competitive. In April, the New Hampshire Supreme Court announced that it would appoint a neutral expert to draw the state’s next map if the legislature and governor are unable to agree by late May.

New York: After a bipartisan commission failed to reach agreement on a new map, the Democratically controlled legislature originally approved and enacted a map that was expected to give Democrats up to three new seats. The legislature’s map created 20 Democratic-leaning seats, four Republican-leaning seats, and two competitive seats. On April 26, the New York Court of Appeals – the state’s highest court with all seven judges appointed by Democratic governors  – upheld a lower court ruling striking down the state’s new maps. The court claimed the maps were intentionally gerrymandered for political gain and in violation of the state constitution. The ruling requires the map be redrawn with the assistance of a neutral expert, who must propose a new map by May 16. A New York judge also ordered the state’s congressional and legislative primaries to move from June 28 to August 23, 2022. On May 2, Democrats made a last-minute appeal pushing to reinstate the maps, arguing that there isn’t enough time to draw new lines and hold a timely primary. Several interested parties (Democrats and Republicans) have submitted their own ideas to the court for the neutral expert’s consideration, but he is under no obligation to follow any of them.