Other States

In 37 states, legislatures are primarily responsible for the drawing of congressional district lines. Seven states use backup commissions and other procedures in case the state legislatures are unable to decide on redistricting.

Independent commissions draw the lines for both state legislative and congressional districts in six states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana and Washington. These commissions do not include legislators or other elected officials.

California and Arizona the most interesting structure, one that New York would do well to emulate:


In California, an independent commission draws both congressional and state legislative districts. The commission consists 14 members: 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 4 belonging to neither party.

A panel of state auditors selects the pool of nominees, which consists of 20 Democrats, 20 Republicans and 20 of neither party. The majority and minority leaders of both chambers of the state legislature can each remove 2 members from each of the groups. The first eight commission members are selected at random from the remaining nominees. These first eight must be 3 Democrats, 3 Republicans and 2 from neither party. The first 8 commissioners appoint the remaining 6, which must be split between 2 Democrats, 2 Republicans and 2 from neither party.

In order to approve a redistricting plan, 9 of the commission’s 14 members must vote for it. These 9 must include 3 Democrats, 3 Republicans and 3 from neither party. Maps drawn by the commission may be overturned by public referendum. In the event that a map is overturned by the public, the California Supreme Court must appoint a group to draw a new map.

The law is widely considered a success, with more competitive elections around the state.

According to the article, the law has been a success and they’ve had more competitive elections in some districts.  They mention a Supreme Court Case that might nix it, but the case was decided in favor of the redistricting law, as you see in the text below the link.


Arizona Proposition 106, or the “Constitutional Amendment Relating to Creation of a Redistricting Commission,“ was approved in a referendum by the voters in 2000.

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission draws the congressional and state district lines. The commission is composed of five members:

  • 4 are selected by the majority and minority leaders of each chamber of the state legislature from a list of 25 candidates nominated by the state commission on appellate court appointments.
  • The 25 nominees are 10 Democrats, 10 Republicans and 5 unaffiliated citizens.
  • The 4 commission members then choose the fifth and final member of the commission. The fifth member of the commission must belong to a different political party than the other commissioners.

Interestingly, the Arizona constitution requires that “competitive districts be favored where doing so would not significantly detract from the goals above.”

The Arizona proposition was challenged, and was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.  On June 29, 2015, the Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The court decided that “redistricting is a legislative function, to be performed in accordance with the state’s prescriptions for lawmaking, which may include the referendum and the governor’s veto.”