Redistrciting Background

Every 10 years the United States conducts a census of its citizens. Following each census, all states, including those that retain the same number of Congressional seats, must redistrict Congressional districts. Shifts in population will also require virtually all other governmental bodies, such as city and county councils, and school boards to redistrict their election district boundaries. All redistricting plans must comply with the requirements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA), and with the 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The purpose of this page is to prepare representatives of NAACP Units to be effective advocates in the redistricting process that is occurring at all levels of elective government in the United States. It is essential that NAACP Units engage in the redistricting process to ensure the protection of minority voting rights during redistricting.

 A more comprehensive manual on reapportionment and redistricting is available to NAACP Units through the NAACP National Redistricting Project. Units may obtain the manual by calling (410) 580-5675 or e-mailing redistricting@naacpnet.org.

What is Redistricting?

 Redistricting is the process of redrawing the geographic boundaries of the election districts for legislative bodies such as school boards, city councils, county commissions, state legislatures and the United States House of Representatives

What is Reapportionment?

Reapportionment is the process of determining how many of the 435 seats in the U. S. House of Representatives are to be assigned to each state, based upon the state population totals from the decennial census. Reapportionment occurs early in the first year of each decade, e.g., 2011, when the U.S. Census Bureau releases the first data from the census taken the year before. The term “reapportionment” is sometimes incorrectly interchanged with the term “redistricting.”

Watch for Proposed Redistricting Plans That Dilute the Black Vote

Cracking – Drawing district lines so that an area of concentrated minority population, which is large enough for separate representation in that it could constitute one or more majority-minority or majority-black districts, is divided and spread among several districts that are predominantly white.

Packing – Drawing district lines so that the minority population is over-concentrated or “packed” into election districts.

Stacking – Drawing district lines so that a large minority population concentration is included with a larger white population with the purpose or effect of depriving minority voters of a voting majority.