Session Review: Redistricting

The Redistricting Committee considered criteria this session that will guide the Legislature in the 2021 redistricting process.

The U.S. and state constitutions require the Legislature to redraw various governmental district boundaries every 10 years in response to population changes reflected in the U.S. Census. Senators are expected to complete the redistricting process in a special session in September after census data becomes available.

Lawmakers will create new district boundaries for Nebraska’s three U.S. House of Representatives districts, 49 legislative districts and those of the Nebraska Supreme Court, Public Service Commission, State Board of Education and University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

LR134, introduced by the Redistricting Committee and adopted by the Legislature on a vote of 31-16, sets criteria intended to ensure that redistricting plans are constitutionally acceptable.

Under the guidelines, senators will use 2020 U.S. Census population data and census geography to establish district boundaries. Boundaries will follow county lines wherever practicable and define districts that are compact and contiguous.

District boundaries cannot be established with the intention of favoring a political party or any other group or person, and lawmakers cannot consider the political affiliations of registered voters, demographic information other than population figures or the results of previous elections.

The criteria also prohibit district boundaries that would result in the unlawful dilution of any minority population’s voting strength.

As far as possible, boundaries also must define districts that are easily identifiable and understandable to voters, preserve communities of interest and allow for the preservation of the core of prior districts.

Under LR134, lawmakers will draw congressional districts with populations as close to equal as practicable, with an overall range of deviation at or approaching zero percent. No plan may be considered that results in an overall range of deviation of more than 1 percent or a relative deviation of more than 0.5 percent from the ideal population.

For the remaining districts, the Legislature may not consider a plan that results in an overall range of deviation of more than 10 percent or a relative deviation of more than 5 percent from the ideal population.

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