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#1
04-22-2020, 06:31 AM
 Guest Join Date: Sep 2011 Location: Sunny California Posts: 16,085

## Re-districting: When does it happen, and controlled by whom?

Okay, we're doing a census this year. And sometime after that, districts get re-drawn.

When does that happen? Before the November election? After the election but before a new Congress (and new state legislatures and governors) takes office? After the new Congress but before the Presidential (re-)inauguration? After that?

And, correspondingly, who will be doing the drawing?

The point of this question being, will the re-districting be done (or controlled) by the outgoing administrations in the states, or by the newly elected administrations? And what is the first election for which new districts will be in effect?

ETA: Clarification: The real point I want to get at is: Who will be drawing or controlling the district map that we will be stuck with for the next ten years?

Last edited by Senegoid; 04-22-2020 at 06:34 AM.
#2
04-22-2020, 06:47 AM
 Charter Member Moderator Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: The Land of Cleves Posts: 88,635
It won't be in time for the November election. It never is-- There's too much to be done. For starters, we're already past most of the primaries for those races.

Which state gets how many people is determined by a mathematical formula, which was chosen by Congress. Per the Constitution, this has to be done in proportion to the population, but because the numbers of representatives for each state are integers, the proportionality can't be exact. There are multiple ways to deal with this inexactness, and a different formula used to be used before some flaws became apparent in it. The precise formula could in principle be changed again, if Congress were motivated to do so.

Once you know how many each state gets, it's up to the individual states, each of which has its own procedure for drawing districts. The most common is that it's done by state legislature, which means that whichever party controls the legislature can gerrymander the map to favor them. Some states have laws restricting the legislature in various ways to try to prevent gerrymandering, some hand it off to an "independent" commission which may or may not be actually independent, and so on. It's often proposed that the drawing of districts should be done by some sort of automated algorithm, but I don't know if any state actually does that. The only universal requirement is that all of the districts within a state must be the same population.
#3
04-22-2020, 09:52 AM
 Member Join Date: Dec 2010 Location: Ohio, USA Posts: 6,871
It can't happen this year.* The Census Bureau won't send the necessary data to the states until sometime next year, and states will begin the work of getting districts ready for the 2022 elections.

There's a catch, though, due to the virus: Most states have their legislative elections in 2020 (too early) and/or 2022 (well after the data will come in), but some like Virginia have their next state elections in 2021, and have a state redistricting scheduled before that, but they're beginning to worry that the delays to the Census could require them to wait until the 2023/5 elections to use their new state districts.

*At least related to the Census. States can, so long as their own laws permit it, redistrict whenever they please.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 04-22-2020 at 09:56 AM.
#4
04-22-2020, 10:31 AM
 Mod Rocker Moderator Join Date: Mar 1999 Location: N E Ohio Posts: 41,012
This is a General Question with a factual answer.
Moving from Politics and Elections to General Questions.

[ /Moderating ]
#5
04-22-2020, 11:49 AM
 Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2002 Location: NY but not NYC Posts: 32,448
Congress has a fascinating document that covers most of this information: Apportionment and Redistricting Process for the U.S. House of Representatives That should take you to a pdf to download.

There's a timeline of the process as a whole, a chart on p. 15 that shows how each state handles reapportionment, and some appendixes that discuss methods. Table 4 lists some of the criteria that states use in drawing boundaries.

A footnote on p. 10 reads "d. No apportionment occurred after the 1920 Census." That occurred because of the huge shift in population from rural to urban areas. The House was dominated by rural politicians who claimed that the Census must have been "flawed" so was therefore inapplicable. Not until 1929 when a new Reapportionment Act was passed could a new round of reapportionment take place after the 1930 census.

Concerns have been raised that the interrupted Census taking place now could also be rejected or applied inequitably. That can't be properly discussed in GQ, but it's a reminder that the process is still inherently political.
#6
04-22-2020, 12:38 PM
 Guest Join Date: Apr 2000 Location: Within Posts: 13,816
I attribute the process of redistricting by both parties as the single activity that has contributed the most to polarization within the United States.
#7
04-23-2020, 02:16 PM
 Guest Join Date: Sep 2011 Location: Sunny California Posts: 16,085
How did this thread show up in The Quarantine Zone ???

I started it in Politics & Elections (where it still appears), and a mod moved it to General Questions.

Board indexing glitch?
#8
04-23-2020, 03:47 PM
 Charter Member Moderator Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: The Land of Cleves Posts: 88,635
tomndebb hit the wrong button, maybe? We're human; it happens sometimes.

If so, though, he's since fixed it, because it's in GQ now.
#9
04-24-2020, 01:05 PM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
As others pointed out, the redistricting will be done beginning in 2021, and won't be done by those defeated in the coming Election.

However, the decision of how many House seats (and therefore electoral votes) each state gets will be made by a fixed algorithm operating on the state populations reported by the Census Bureau. The last such report was made in December 2010, so presumably the next one will be made by Trump's Census Bureau before those elected in 2020 take office.

Present population estimates are no secret, so it is straightforward to guess what the changes to the House make-up will be; I have summarized this at the linked post. Texas gets three more seats, Florida two, another five states (AZ, CO, MT, NC, OR) get one each; and several states (AL, CA, IL, MI, MN, NY, OH, PA, RI, WV) will each lose one. (Population figures are used for other political and financial purposes.)

Normally, census population reports show all residents including immigrants, whether legal or not! Even though these people cannot vote, rightly or wrongly the system is supposed to include them when it determines district and state populations for electoral purposes. If the Census does a poor or uneven job of counting all residents, the population figures may be affected.

New York is on the border-line between losing one seat and losing two seats. I think Covid-19 deaths may push NY to -2. The extra seat would then go to CA, MN or AL.

Perhaps. I think there's a fair chance the Census will be bollixed enough to yield unexpected results.
#10
04-24-2020, 03:24 PM
 Charter Member Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: My own private Nogero Posts: 7,797
Quote:
 Originally Posted by septimus New York is on the border-line between losing one seat and losing two seats. I think Covid-19 deaths may push NY to -2. The extra seat would then go to CA, MN or AL
The Census nominally takes place on April 1st. If a person dies after that date, as most of NY's Covid deaths have, they should still be counted in the Census. How closely this will be followed is a good question.

Related to this, I read somewhere that the opioid epidemic[*] might push WV's population down enough that it would lose two seats.

Quote:
 Perhaps. I think there's a fair chance the Census will be bollixed enough to yield unexpected results.
Would not surprise me.

[*] Remember the good old days when that was the only epidemic we had to worry about?
#11
04-24-2020, 03:52 PM
 Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2002 Location: NY but not NYC Posts: 32,448
Quote:
 Originally Posted by septimus New York is on the border-line between losing one seat and losing two seats. I think Covid-19 deaths may push NY to -2. The extra seat would then go to CA, MN or AL.
Highly unlikely. New York lost 130,000 people between 2020 and 2019. It may have 10,000 deaths from COVID-19. That's such a slight increase that it will be lost in the statistical noise of immigration and out-migration as well as the uncertainty of undercounting.

I agree that this year's count probably is doomed to miscount some populations unevenly scattered around the country. My preference would be to redo it next April, but that's itself highly unlikely.

Last edited by Exapno Mapcase; 04-24-2020 at 03:54 PM.
#12
04-24-2020, 04:07 PM
 Charter Member Moderator Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: The Land of Cleves Posts: 88,635
One issue I've seen pointed out is college students. A lot of parents had students who they did not expect, at the time they filled out the census, to be living at home on April 1, and who further expected that those students would be counted at their colleges. But as events transpired, most of them weren't at their colleges on April 1. Will they be counted in either location?

And this is a particularly bad sort of error, since it's demographically systematic. It means that states with a larger proportion of college students will be underreported to a greater degree.
#13
04-24-2020, 04:16 PM
 Charter Member Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: My own private Nogero Posts: 7,797
AIUI, the Census webpage will allow one to go back and change a filing. Well, it requires one to fill the whole thing out again, rather than modify the previous filing, but it does allow for changes. How many people will do this for a college student unexpectedly at home is a good question.
#14
04-24-2020, 05:25 PM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase Highly unlikely. New York lost 130,000 people between 2020 and 2019. It may have 10,000 deaths from COVID-19. That's such a slight increase that it will be lost in the statistical noise of immigration and out-migration as well as the uncertainty of undercounting.
Using the best population estimates I know, I find that New York would have to lose 27,000 extra people to lose a second seat (to Alabama), all other populations staying as estimated. HOWEVER, if Alabama somehow gains 3600 extra people, New York would need to lose only 12,600 for it to lose a 2nd seat — that seat would go to Alabama keeping its count at nine.

Is it likely that my estimate for Alabama's population is low by 3600, or that there will be an overcount that large? I don't know, but you can be certain that if anyone does try to finagle census results they will have done the same arithmetical experiments that I have done.
#15
04-24-2020, 05:31 PM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase Highly unlikely. New York lost 130,000 people between 2020 and 2019.
In the extrapolated figures I used NY lost only 77,000 over that period. Your numbers are probably better than mine. I'll redo the arithmetic with your figures if you send them to me.

With 150,000 lost, it sounds like New York will lose two House seats in any event.
#16
04-25-2020, 02:24 AM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase New York lost 130,000 people between 2020 and 2019. It may have 10,000 deaths from COVID-19.
I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask for a cite on that. Here's a news article lamenting the 77,000 drop the year before. Google shows me nothing like a 130,000 drop.

Is it possible that you've misremembered that the stat was for the City? That would be believable, with the non-City state gains canceling part of that City loss.

My suspicion that your figure is wrong is strengthened by the fact that New York's 77,000 drop the year before appears to be record-setting. Here are, per Census Bureau reports 2010-2019, the 15 biggest state population declines over the last decade:
2019 New_York, -76790
2018 New_York, -59221
2018 Illinois, -55757
2019 Illinois, -51250
2017 New_York, -43856
2017 Illinois, -41699
2016 Illinois, -38386
2015 Illinois, -25580
2016 New_York, -21238
2017 West_Virginia, -14019
2018 West_Virginia, -12713
2019 West_Virginia, -12144
2016 West_Virginia, -11027
2019 Louisiana, -10896
2018 Louisiana, -10870

(If Puerto Rico were a state it would dominate this list, e.g. with
2018 Puerto_Rico, -131932)

Your "10,000 deaths from Covid-19" is also out-of-date. http://91-divoc.com shows 21,000 deaths in New York as of April 23. Presumably the correct number is more like 27,000 given excess-death studies.
#17
04-25-2020, 05:25 AM
 Charter Member Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: My own private Nogero Posts: 7,797
Quote:
 Originally Posted by septimus Your "10,000 deaths from Covid-19" is also out-of-date. http://91-divoc.com shows 21,000 deaths in New York as of April 23. Presumably the correct number is more like 27,000 given excess-death studies.
That's the wrong date. As I pointed out above, the nominal date of the Census is April 1. Anyone who dies after that should be counted.
#18
04-25-2020, 10:57 AM
 Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2002 Location: NY but not NYC Posts: 32,448
Quote:
 Originally Posted by septimus I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask for a cite on that. Here's a news article lamenting the 77,000 drop the year before. Google shows me nothing like a 130,000 drop.
Google shows it to me via this interactive chart.

It confirms the news article by also showing a rounded drop of 80,000 from the year before, indicating that the same sources are being used. The problem is that you can't extrapolate that number out as you're doing. Earlier drops were much less. The eight years from 2010 to 2018 added to a rounded loss of 50,000.

I admit it is mathematically possible that an additional 10,000 deaths as of April 1 may be sufficient for New York to lose an extra seat. However, we'll never know whether that extra 10,000 arose from coronavirus deaths or any of the myriad of other factors that go into a census.
#19
04-25-2020, 02:37 PM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase Google shows it to me via this interactive chart.
I'm lost. Your link shows me the 2019 Census estimates: NY had 19.45 million in 2019. You claimed IIUC that a 2020 estimate for NY would be 130,000 less, i.e. 19.32 million. So somewhere on the page you linked I should see "19.32 million (2020)"? Where? I don't see it.

Last edited by septimus; 04-25-2020 at 02:39 PM.
#20
04-25-2020, 02:50 PM
 Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2002 Location: NY but not NYC Posts: 32,448
Quote:
 Originally Posted by septimus I'm lost. Your link shows me the 2019 Census estimates: NY had 19.45 million in 2019. You claimed IIUC that a 2020 estimate for NY would be 130,000 less, i.e. 19.32 million. So somewhere on the page you linked I should see "19.32 million (2020)"? Where? I don't see it.
New York in 2010, 19.58 million. New York in 2019, 19.45 million. That's a loss of 130,000 people since the last census.

OK, I see the problem. I typoed 2010 as 2020 earlier. Does that help?
#21
04-25-2020, 03:53 PM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
Ouch! OK. I mistype all the time. The "Last edited by septimus; Today at 02:39 AM.. " in the previous post was because my fingers mis-hit and got '2018' for '2019.'

I remember thinking your "New York lost 130,000 people between 2020 and 2019" was peculiar — why the 2020/2019 reversal — but the mistake didn't dawn on me.

So you don't have any inside info on the 2020 NY number. Of course I already had the Census numbers.

Anyway, I stand by my claims that
* NY is quite close to the borderline between losing one seat and losing two seats;
* the virus might increase the chance that NY loses two seats;
* if NY does lose 2 then Alabama, possibly with the aid of shenanigans, is likely to to be the state that gets that extra seat (i.e. that AL will remain at 9 seats rather than dropping to 8 as expected).

ETA: In one post I wrote
Quote:
 My suspicion that your figure is wrong is strengthened by the fact that New York's 77,000 drop the year before appears to be record-setting. Here are, per Census Bureau reports 2010-2019, the 15 biggest state population declines over the last decade: 2019 New_York, -76790 ...
I don't think it would be possible for you to study that post (which quotes your typo) without coming up with an Aha! An extra 20 seconds of attention by you would have saved me several minutes.
#22
04-25-2020, 08:07 PM
 Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2002 Location: NY but not NYC Posts: 32,448
Message boards are good when they give you time to think and even research an answer before you post. They're bad when a simple misunderstanding that would take a moment to clear up in conversation derails an exhange indefiniately.

I'll leave that paragraph alone. It says it all.
#23
04-26-2020, 01:41 AM
 Guest Join Date: Sep 2011 Location: Sunny California Posts: 16,085
The main idea I was thinking of when I started this thread was: After 10 years of Republican gerrymandering in certain states, who will be in charge of the re-gerrymandering (or un-gerrymandering) for the next ten years?

From all the responses above, it sounds like the current gerrymanders will still be in effect for the upcoming November election, but the newly elected or re-elected administrations in the various states will draw the districts for the next 10 years.
#24
04-26-2020, 06:41 AM
 Guest Join Date: Dec 2009 Location: the Land of Smiles Posts: 21,525
Yes. Another reason why November's election is extremely important. Ousting Trump without flipping some State Houses (and the Senate) will be a hollow victory.

Sorry for the hijack (and the nine messages wasted pursuing a typo ), but the Census — which IS controlled by today's incumbents — is important, not only as to House seats per state, but as to the redistrictings within states.
#25
04-26-2020, 07:32 AM
 Charter Member Moderator Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: The Land of Cleves Posts: 88,635
Worth noting, some states have referendum processes by which the citizens can directly implement things like redistricting reforms without cooperation from the legislature. So in those states, the party in control of the legislature can't gerrymander themselves into a permanent unassailable unrepresentative majority.
#26
04-26-2020, 12:13 PM
 Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2002 Location: NY but not NYC Posts: 32,448
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Senegoid From all the responses above, it sounds like the current gerrymanders will still be in effect for the upcoming November election, but the newly elected or re-elected administrations in the various states will draw the districts for the next 10 years.
That's mostly correct, and its large effect can be seen by the Republicans' widespread taking of legislatures in 2010. The Ballotpedia page is a must read.

As I mentioned above, though, the states have to wait for Congress to do a new distribution of seats. If for any reason - and this census may provide one - Congress does not reallocate in the year after the census, then it's possible for subsequent elections to produce the state legislatures responsible for drawing the new districts. Additionally, not all states have their elections in even years. Some states will have a 2021 election that may choose those in charge.

To add a complication, states work in their usual independent and individualistic ways, per Wikipedia.
Quote:
 Seven states have only a single representative in the United States House of Representatives for the entire state, because of their low populations. These are Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. These states do not need redistricting for the House and elect members on a state-wide at-large basis. In 25 states, the state legislature has primary responsibility for creating a redistricting plan, in many cases subject to approval by the state governor. To reduce the role that legislative politics might play, thirteen states (Alaska[a], Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Montana[b], New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington) determine congressional redistricting by an independent or bipartisan redistricting commission.[2] Five states: Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont[c], and Virginia give independent bodies authority to propose redistricting plans, but preserve the role of legislatures to approve them. Arkansas has a commission composed of its governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. By law, the 43 states with more than one Representative must redistrict after each decennial census to account for population shifts within the state as well as (when necessary) to add or remove congressional districts. States are not prevented from redistricting at any time between censuses up to and including redistricting prior to each congressional election, provided such redistricting conforms to various federal laws. However, "mid-decade" redistricting proposals (such as what occurred in 2003 in Texas) have typically been highly controversial.
#27
04-26-2020, 04:27 PM
 Charter Member Moderator Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: The Land of Cleves Posts: 88,635
And one of those states with a single Representative, Montana, is one of the ones that's expected to gain a seat this census, so they'll have to start districting, which they haven't done in decades

(I was surprised to learn that, for most of the state's history, it's had two seats.)

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