The redistricting process may nearly be over, and then again maybe not.
When the Republicans won control of both houses of the legislature in 2010, they also won the right to for the first time in 130 years, to draw the districts from which they are elected.
Redistricting is required after the census every ten years to account for shifts in population. In 2011 the Republicans redistricted the state and have been in court over redistricting ever since. So in 2019, the Republicans who still control the state House and Senate and are under court order to once again draw new maps, tried something new. The districts were drawn by bipartisan committees and the meetings were broadcast live.
The state Senate passed new redistricting maps on Monday, Sept. 16 by a process completely unlike the past. The starting point for the Senate map was created by Dr. Jowei Chen who was hired by the Democratic Party to produce nonpartisan districts for one redistricting lawsuit.
Chen created 2,000 maps and the Senate narrowed that down to the ones that most closely corresponded with the directions from the court. Of those maps, the winning map was chosen at random by a lottery like draw.
The map chosen at random only had adjustments made that were suggested by Democratic Senators.
The result is that the random map, drawn by the Democratic Party mapmaker and amended by Democrats passed the Senate on a bipartisan 38 to 9 vote. The Senate is made up of 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats. Eight Democrats voted against the map and one Republican.
The one Republican was Sen. Dan Bishop who just won election to the US House of Representatives in a special election. Bishop didn’t comment on why he voted against the maps.
The state House passed a redistricting map for state representatives earlier in the week by a similar manner and now the two chambers have to reach agreement on the maps.
Regardless of whether or not these maps are challenged in court, in 2021 the whole process starts over with new maps drawn after the 2020 census.