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Redistricting

From Academic Kids

Known as redistricting in the United States and redistribution in many Commonwealth countries, it is the changing of political borders (in many countries, specifically the electoral district/constituency boundaries) usually in response to periodic census results. This takes place by law or constitution at least every decade in most representative democracy systems to maintain a geographic form of proportional representation.

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United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, four Boundary Commissions (one each for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) are responsible for reviewing the boundaries of Parliamentary constituencies, within guidelines set by Parliament.

United States

In six states (Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Jersey and Washington), congressional redistricting is performed by an independent, bipartisan commission. In the remaining states, the state legislature has primary responsibility for creating a redistricting plan, subject to approval by the state governor. Various states also have laws or constitutions mandating that municipal governments do this as well.

Each state has its own standards for creating Congressional and legislative districts. In the states where the legislature is in charge of redistricting, the possibility of gerrymandering (the deliberate manipulation of political boundaries for electoral advantage, usually of incumbents or a specific political party) often makes the process politically contentious, especially when the two houses of the legislature, or the legislature and the governor, are from different parties. The federal court system is often involved in resolving disputes over Congressional and legislative redistricting. Justice Department approval is required in many states that have had a history of racial gerrymandering.

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