Redistricting and Reapportionment

What is Reapportionment?

What is Redistricting?

How is Redistricting accomplished in Colorado?

What are the timelines for the reapportionment commission?

What are the timelines for Congressional redistricting?

How is the commission appointed?

What are the criteria's the commission must use for redistricting the state legislative districts?

What are the criteria's the General assembly must use for Congressional redistricting?

How can I get involved?



What is Reapportionment?

Reapportionment is the process used to reallocate the 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives amongst the 50 states following each mandated decennial census. The 435 US Congressional seats are apportioned to each state based on that states percentage of the total population of all 50 states. However, each state is guaranteed at least one seat by the Constitution.  There are seven states with a single representative because their population is too low; they are Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.  Based on the 2010 Census results Colorado will again be apportioned 7 Congressional seats. Watch the video.


What is Redistricting?

Redistricting is the process of redrawing the boundaries of congressional and state legislative electoral districts to reflect population changes that result from the mandated decennial census results. 


How is Redistricting accomplished in Colorado?

In Colorado there are two separate and distinct processes for redistricting, US Congressional districts and state legislative districts.  The Colorado General Assembly is responsible for redistricting Colorado’s congressional seats.  However, the Colorado Reapportionment Commission is responsible for redistricting Colorado’s 35 State Senate and 65 State House of Representative districts. 


What are the timelines for Congressional redistricting?

There are no constitutional or statutory deadlines for drawing the congressional district lines. In the past, the Governor has called a special session of the legislature after final population figures have become available and could be analyzed. The General Assembly, potential candidates, and voters will want to have the redrawn congressional district boundaries completed well before the April 2012 precinct caucuses.


What are the criteria the General assembly must use for Congressional redistricting?

Federal law requires precise mathematical equality in population among congressional districts. Other criteria that courts have looked at to assess congressional plans include: 1) absence of racial discrimination; 2) compactness and contiguity of districts; 3) preservation of county or municipal boundaries; and, 4) preservation of communities of interest. Unlike state Senate and House plans, congressional plans are not required to be submitted to any court for review. However, in the past these plans have often been challenged in court.Link to content


What are the timelines for the reapportionment commission?

January-March, 2011- Census Bureau transmits census information to the Governor and Majority and Minority Leaders

April 15, 2011- Last day for four legislative members of the reapportionment commission to accept service or appoint designees.

April 15-25, 2011- Governor appoints three commission members representing executive branch 

April 25- May 5, 2011- Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court appoints four commission members representing judicial branch

May 15, 2011- Date by which Governor convenes commission and appoints temporary chairman 

September 5, 2011- Date by which commission publishes preliminary plan for reapportionment. The constitution directs the commission to adopt a preliminary plan within 113 days after the commission is convened (by September 5, 2011) and then to hold public hearings within 45 days after publication of the preliminary plan. However, because2012 is a presidential electoral year. Precinct Caucuses will be held the first Tuesday in February rather than the third Tuesday in March. Therefore the Preliminary plan and Public hearings must be held earlier than the Constitution requires.

October 7, 2011- Date by which commission finalizes plan and submits it to Colorado Supreme Court for review (within 45 days of completion of public hearings)

November 9, 2011- Date by which all arguments and evidence submitted to Supreme Court.

December 14, 2011- If plan is approved by Supreme Court, date by which the plan for redistricting state legislative district is filed with the Secretary of State


How is the Commission Appointed?

Under the state constitution, redistricting of state legislative districts is done by an 11-member Commission that convenes every ten years. The Commission consists of 4 legislative leaders, 3 persons appointed by the Governor, and 4 persons appointed by the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court.



What are the criteria the commission must use for redistricting the state legislative districts?

Federal law and the Colorado constitution set criteria for the Commission to follow when redrawing district boundaries. The "one person, one vote" mandate requires the Commission to achieve equal population among the districts, and the Colorado constitution defines this mandate as no more than 5% deviation between the most populous district and the least populous district.
The federal "Voting Rights Act" requires that districts be drawn so as to give minority groups an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.
Other state constitutional criteria include:

    The area within a district must be as compact as possible and the sum of the perimeters of  all districts must be as short as possible.
    Districts must be composed of contiguous election precincts.
    Counties and cities cannot be split unless necessary to achieve equal population

Finally, communities of interest- ethnic, economic, cultural, demographic, trade area and geographic- are to be preserved within a single district whenever possible.


How Can I get Involved?

Under Colorado's Open Meetings Law, all commission, committee, or floor sessions to consider redistricting plans are open to the public. Public testimony is usually taken at commission or committee meetings. The location, time and agenda for each meeting will be available through the Internet.  Interested persons may wish to contact individual commission members or legislators and view proposed plans which will be published on the World Wide Web.