Arizona

State website: www.azredistricting.org
2010-cycle districts: Congress, State Legislature  « NEW 
2000-cycle districts: Congress, State Legislature
Primary governing law: Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1

The Latest

On Oct. 3, the independent commission issued draft maps. On December 20, the commission issued tentative final maps; after technical amendments, the final maps were formally approved by a 3-2 vote on January 17. The congressional maps were submitted for preclearance on Feb. 10, and precleared on April 9; state legislative maps were submitted on Feb. 28, and precleared on April 26. Litigation has been filed against both sets of plans.

A controversy, allegedly over violations of the state's Open Meetings Law, led to the Nov. 1 impeachment of the commission's chair. After the state Attorney General launched an investigation based on these allegations, seeking a court order forcing the independent commissioners to cooperate, the commissioners counter-sued, alleging political interference with their process. Before the investigation was complete, the Governor called for the impeachment of the commission's chair, which was approved by 2/3 of the state Senate; on November 17, the Arizona Supreme Court found the impeachment improper and reinstated the chair.

  • Institution

    Redistricting political control:

    Governor State Senate State House
    Congressional lines Independent commission with balanced partisan composition
    State legislative lines
    2000 cong. lines Independent commission with balanced partisan composition
    2000 state lines

    Arizona's congressional and state legislative lines are drawn by a five-member independent commission, created by ballot initiative in 2000. For the three years before their appointment to the commission, none of the commissioners may have been appointed to, or a candidate for, any public office; an officer of a political party; a paid lobbyist; or an officer of a candidate's campaign committee.

    The state's commission on appellate court appointments nominates 10 Republicans, 10 Democrats, and 5 individuals not registered with either major party; the four legislative leaders (majority and minority leader in each legislative house) each choose one commissioner from this pool of 25 nominees. Those four commissioners then select a fifth tiebreaker who is not registered in the same party as any other commissioner. Each commissioner must be an Arizona voter registered with the same political party (or unaffiliated) for at least three years, and at most two of the first four commissioners may live in the same county. [Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1(3)-(8)]

    Current commissioners are listed here.


  • Timing

    Census data were delivered to Arizona on March 10, 2011.

    Arizona state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional or state legislative lines; candidates must file for congressional and state legislative primary elections by May 30, 2012. [Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-311(a)]

    Arizona prohibits redrawing district lines mid-decade, before the next Census. [Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1(23)]


  • Public input

    Public meetings were held around the state in July, August, and September. Video and other materials from past meetings are archived here.

    Transparency was also at the heart of a controversy involving the commission's membership. A controversy, allegedly over violations of the state's Open Meetings Law, led to the Nov. 1 impeachment of the commission's chair. After the state Attorney General launched an investigation based on these allegations, seeking a court order forcing the independent commissioners to cooperate, the commissioners counter-sued, alleging political interference with their process. At the same time, Arizona Democrats issued a public records request related to the Attorney General's investigation, and requested an unrelated investigation into alleged omissions and false statments on another commissioner's application. On November 1, 2011, before any of the investigations were complete, the Governor called for the impeachment of the commission's chair, which was approved by 2/3 of the state Senate; the impeachment was itself subject to litigation.


  • Criteria

    Like all states, Arizona must comply with constitutional equal population requirements, and state law further asks that districts have equal population to the extent practicable. [Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1(14)(B)]

    Arizona must also, like all states, abide by section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Arizona is further considered a "covered state" under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, with the obligation to submit redistricting plans to the Department of Justice or to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to ensure that the plans do not discriminate against minority communities.

    The Arizona constitution requires that the district map begin with a "grid-like pattern." Districts are then adjusted to be contiguous, geographically compact, and respect communities of interest -- all to the extent practicable. [Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1(14); Ariz. Minority Coal. for Fair Redistricting v. Ariz. Ind. Redistricting Comm'n, 121 P.3d 843 (Ariz. Ct. Appeal 2005)] (In 2000, the commission apparently decided to use the "Polsby-Popper" test for compactness, emphasizing the degree to which perimeter boundaries are contorted, but there is some dispute about the extent to which the commission actually used that test.) [Transcript at 164 (Feb. 7, 2004); Definitions]

    The state constitution also provides that, to the extent practicable, district lines should use visible geographic features, city, town, and county boundaries, and undivided census tracts. [Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1(14)] Finally, the state constitution asks that, to the extent practicable, competitive districts be favored where doing so would not significantly detract from the goals above. [Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1(14); Definitions; Ariz. Minority Coal. for Fair Redistricting v. Ariz. Ind. Redistricting Comm'n, 208 P.3d 676 (Ariz. 2009)]

    State legislative districts are, by definition, nested; one Senator and two Representatives are elected from each district. [Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1(1)]

    Party registration and voting history data may not be used in the "initial phase" of the mapping process, but can be used to ensure that plans ultimately meet the goals above. The commission may not consider the homes of candidates. [Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1(15)]


  • 2010 cycle cases

    Due to the volume of filings, information on the Arizona cases is located on a separate litigation page, here.


  • 2000 cycle

    In the 2000 redistricting cycle, Arizona's commission first drew state legislative maps that drew an objection from the Department of Justice. The commission revised their districts, and a federal court authorized those districts for use in the 2002 elections, on an emergency basis only. The commission then revised the districts once again, and adopted a final plan on August 14, 2002, which was precleared on February 10, 2003.

    Arizona's commission also drew congressional maps, which were precleared on March 26, 2002.

    Both the second state legislative plan and the congressional plan were challenged in state court, and both were ultimately upheld. [Ariz. Minority Coal. for Fair Redistricting v. Ariz. Ind. Redistricting Comm'n, 121 P.3d 843 (Ariz. Ct. Appeal 2005); Ariz. Minority Coal. for Fair Redistricting v. Ariz. Ind. Redistricting Comm'n, 208 P.3d 676 (Ariz. 2009)]


  • Other state links

    Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition (Contest results here and here.)

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