What is redistricting and why does it matter?

Redistricting, or reapportionment, is the process by which state legislatures redraw political boundaries every 10 years following the U.S. Census. The United States Constitution and federal statutes require a federal census to be conducted every 10 years and require congressional districts to be reapportioned based on that census data.  Kansas law also requires the reapportionment of the state Senate districts, state House of Representative districts and Kansas school board districts based on the census information.

According to the state constitution, redistricting is to be completed in the second year after the federal census. Learn more from the Kansas Legislative Research Department “Introduction to Redistricting.

Populations shift over 10 yearsSource: http://www.kslegresearch.org/KLRD-web/Publications/Redistricting/Kansas-Population-Change-2010-2020-by-County.pdf Map showing counties in Kansas and population change 2010-2020Why is redistricting important?

Redistricting is vulnerable to gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the intentional manipulation of the redistricting process by people in political power to keep or change political power.

This can happen in a number of ways including:

  • consolidating similar communities into one district, which gives that community only one representative in the legislature,
  • dividing similar community across districts and ensuring that the community is always the minority and less likely to be adequately represented by their representatives,
  •  manipulating the redistricting process to reduce the political power of a certain racial group,
  • drawing districts in a way to give an unfair advantage to one political party, group or incumbent,
  • reducing the competitiveness of districts, which can lead to depressed voter turnout when voters lose faith in their ability to effect change.

Who does the work of redistricting in Kansas?

Redistricting in Kansas is done through a legislative process that provides opportunity for public input. The Kansas Legislature is responsible for creating Kansas Congressional and state Legislative maps. You can see members of the House Committee on Redistricting and members of the Senate Committee on Redistricting.

The Kansas Redistricting Advisory Group is responsible for setting the Kansas redistricting process. You can see these committee members and read committee documents and testimony.

Read the Proposed Guidelines and Criteria for 2022 Kansas Congressional and State Legislative Redistricting.

Communities of interest are areas that share a common legislative concern or need. This 2 minute video from the League of Women Voters of Kansas encourages viewers to tell their legislators about their communities.

How do I participate?

The KS Fair Maps Coalition is a nonpartisan grassroots education and engagement effort by organizations and individuals who want to see an equitable redistricting process.

You can participate in one of these virtual listening sessions to use your new skills:

  • Mon, Nov 22, 5:30–7:30pm – Congressional District 2 virtual town hall
  • Tue, Nov 23, 5:30-7:30pm – Congressional District 1 virtual town hall
  • Mon, Nov 29, 5:30-7:30pm – Congressional District 4 virtual town hall
  • Tue, Nov 30, 5:30-7:30pm – Congressional District 3 virtual town hall

You can sign up to submit verbal testimony for the town hall in your Congressional District by contacting the Kansas Legislative Research Department 24 hours in advance at redistricting@klrd.ks.gov or 785-296-3181.
If you live in Topeka/Shawnee County, you’re in Congressional District 2.

Resources to learn more about redistricting

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book discussion leader, NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, and frequent library customer. She loves her kids, being a librarian, living in Topeka, and helping people form connections and community. (She's the Community Connections Librarian!) She reads a new book every few days, but is enjoying the audiobook of "Empress of Forever" by Max Gladstone, the ebook "When We Were Magic" by Sarah Gailey and is eagerly awaiting John Scalzi's "The Last Emperox" in April!