Between the Lines: Redistricting Ramping Up With Contests, Clashes

Posted March 14, 2011 at 6:33pm

Virginia: Students Offer Alternatives to ‘Gerrymandering’

While the General Assembly ultimately controls the final outcome, students from 13 Virginia colleges have crafted “fair alternatives” to “gerrymandered political districts.” The competition has produced 68 student-drawn maps with new boundaries for 11 Congressional districts, 100 state House districts and 40 Senate districts. They can be viewed here.

“This is the first step in opening up redistricting to citizens, adding much-needed transparency to a politicized and opaque process,” said the American Enterprise Institute’s Norman Ornstein, a Roll Call contributing writer who is a judge in the competition. The winners will be announced March 22.

In addition to cash prizes, the best maps will considered by the Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting created by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).

— Steve Peoples

Mississippi: Split Chambers Producing Two Plans

A new redistricting plan is prompting a standoff between House Democrats and Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant (R). The Legislature is wrangling over competing plans to redraw Congressional and state House and Senate district lines, with a Bryant spokesman saying the House plan must be examined for “fairness,” the Associated Press reported. The spokesman also said voters need time to evaluate the lines.

Senate Republicans released a competing plan Monday that Bryant, who is running for governor, endorsed on Twitter.

The state must have its plan completed by June 1 since there are legislative races on the fall ballot.

Mississippi also must clear its plan for with the Justice Department under the Civil Rights Act.

“People familiar with the Senate redistricting process say a key difference between the two maps will be the location of majority-black Senate districts,” the AP reported.

— Christina Bellantoni

Nation: Next Up: Census Fine Print in Florida

The Census Bureau this week will release detailed local population totals to help states prepare their redistricting plans. The states on this week’s list are Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Tennessee.

Of those, Florida is the most interesting since the state will get two new seats in the House thanks to population gains. Georgia will get one new seat. The other states will not gain or lose seats.

The bureau will give population figures with breakdowns by race, Hispanic origin and voting age.

— C.B.

Missouri: Carnahan Says He’ll Run Again, Lines or Not

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) told The Hill on Monday that he isn’t worried about being a victim of the state’s one-seat loss due to reapportionment. Carnahan said he is “100 percent focused on running for Congress in 2012” despite recent reports he’s considering a bid for the lieutenant governorship.

Carnahan’s 3rd district seat in the St. Louis area could merge into another district. He told the newspaper he’d run against a member of his delegation if necessary.

— C.B.

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