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Redistricting Readiness Checklist

This guide is aimed at helping you familiarize yourself with the knowledge needed to effectively participate in the redistricting cycle by linking you to information and resources at each step of the way.

What is the Redistricting Readiness Checklist?

Redistricting is a complex process and there are many ways to participate. In the last decade since the 2011 redistricting cycle, more resources have been developed and made available than ever. We recognize how difficult it may seem to get involved, and our mission is to make participation more accessible by providing the necessary data and support.

The Redistricting Readiness Checklist is aimed at individuals, organizations, and educators who intend to engage in redistricting advocacy. Whether you plan to provide Community of Interest testimony, coordinate with local communities to gain fair representation, or encourage students to learn more about the process, we have gathered the relevant materials for your goals.

The Redistricting Readiness Checklist is not a list of resources, but a series of questions meant to help you gauge your knowledge of redistricting in your state and direct you toward what you need to know in order to participate effectively. This process is complicated. Rather than jumping in all at once, taking it one step at a time can make it much more manageable to determine what information you need before you can move forward. If you find yourself unable to answer a certain question, we have linked to resources that can provide more information.

We recognize this list is not exhaustive and welcome suggestions for other resources that can help better support efforts for fair representation. Reach out to our help desk with any questions, suggestions or feedback!


What is redistricting?

Redistricting 101 is a comprehensive redistricting guide created through a joint effort between many organizations.It summarizes the most important points of redistricting, and highlights strategies for getting involved through Communities of Interest. There is a Key Terms list at the end of the document to help familiarize with common redistricting language.

The Redistricting 101 from All About Redistricting summarizes the important points of what redistricting is.

  • What is redistricting?
  • When are the lines drawn?
  • Who draws the lines?
  • Where are the lines drawn?
  • How can the public engage?
  • Why should we care?

What is the redistricting process and timeline for your state?

Why does this matter? States have varying redistricting processes and timelines, and what applies in one state may not necessarily apply in another. State legislatures and commissions have different capabilities and constraints they have to answer to.

  • Ballotpedia provides details for each state about the redistricting process and contacts for current elected officials.
  • More information on whether redistricting in your state is overseen by the state legislature or commission can be found on All About Redistricting by clicking on your state.
  • All About Redistricting also has information on the projected timeline of the process, including key deadlines, for legislative and congressional redistricting in every state.
  • The Brennan Center has produced simplified redistricting guides for all states.

Will your state be impacted by the delay in Census data?

Why does this matter? Some states have strict redistricting deadlines, which may be affected by the delayed release of Census data. This may also impact the public input process and other logistics.

How is your state or district impacted by changes in population?

Why does this matter? Redistricting mainly relies on official Census geographies and data. While this has not been released, having a general idea of how your state will be impacted in terms of congressional seats and population changes will make it easier to focus map drawing efforts.

  • Redistricting & You is an interactive tool created by the Center for Urban Research at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. It visualizes how district populations may have changed using 2019 American Community Survey data, which will be updated when the 2020 census population data is released.
  • The Census Bureau released 2020 apportionment counts, which determined which states gain, lose, or keep the same number of congressional seats.

Are you familiar with federal redistricting requirements?

Why does this matter? Map drawing is a complex task because it abides by many requirements. Federal requirements are a major example of this, and understanding what equal population and the Voting Rights Act entails is the first step to drawing a legal district map.

  • Redistricting 101 is a comprehensive redistricting guide created through a joint effort among many organizations.
    • Equal population and the Voting Rights Act are covered on Page 5 of the document.
  • While preclearance is no longer in effect due to the coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act being struck down by Shelby County v. Holder (2013), it may inform how you want to approach drawing or evaluating maps.
    • Review information about Shelby County v. Holder (2013) from the Department of Justice.
    • Check whether your jurisdiction or state was previously covered under preclearance by checking the Department of Justice.

Are you familiar with your state’s redistricting requirements?

Why does this matter? State redistricting requirements vary from place to place. Specific criteria that must be considered is often explicitly found in state constitutions or statutes. Along with the federal requirements, state redistricting criteria must also be met to create a legal district plan.

  • Redistricting 101 is a comprehensive redistricting guide created through a joint effort among many organizations.
    • Common redistricting criteria are covered on Page 5 and 6 of the document.
  • More specific information on the legal language defining the criteria in your state can be found on All About Redistricting or by directly accessing your state constitution or state statutes.

What is your goal for participating in the redistricting process?

Why does this matter? Understanding what your goals are for participating in the redistricting process can help you focus efforts and determine what you need to know. We understand that redistricting is an incredibly complicated process that requires a lot of knowledge, and breaking it down into smaller pieces can make it much easier to approach.

  • Advocating for fair representation
  • Empowering others to participate
  • Organizing and describing Communities of Interest
  • Providing information about your Community of Interest through testimony or maps
  • Encouraging the state legislature or commission to adopt certain criteria
  • Drawing district plans
  • Evaluating proposed maps

If you are interested in learning about and working with the 2020 census data, the U.S. Census Bureau has created a number of video tutorials to get you started

Is there any ongoing litigation in your state that could impact the redistricting process?

Why does this matter? Testimony submitted to the public record can play a key role in successfully challenging gerrymandered maps. Keeping an eye on litigation can provide insight on the ongoing legal battles and inform how you approach engaging with the redistricting cycle in your state.

The Brennan Center tracks and analyzes redistricting cases pending in courts.

Has your state legislature or commission adopted approaches for measuring certain state criteria?

Why does this matter? Understanding what has and has not been proposed to the state legislature or commission, in addition to what has not been explicitly stated, can help focus efforts in mobilizing community members and organizing appropriate testimonies. Knowing this information can also help hold the legislature or commission accountable during the mapmaking process. This is important for criteria, such as compactness, that can be measured using many methods.

  • Does the state legislature or commission overseeing the process have a website?
  • Do they provide public meeting minutes that you can look through to see whether certain approaches to the state criteria have been adopted?
  • Is there a clear statement of how criteria will be measured?
  • Is there a clear statement of how criteria will be prioritized and why?

Do you have more questions?

Our help desk team can answer your questions about redistricting data and the redistricting process. Send a message and they will respond within one business day!