Educational Materials


Redistricting is dividing up a jurisdiction (like a state, county, or city) into districts for the purpose of electing representatives. Where and how the lines are drawn influences everything from who is likely to be elected to how resources get allocated. And when it comes to democratic representation, communities matter. If your community is split up into different small pieces every ten years, it makes it harder to have a voice in government.

The official line-drawing process in Ohio is controlled by the legislators themselves, with a commission of political appointees drawing the legislative lines. The Ohio Citizens' Redistricting Commission was created to model community-centered redistricting.

Redistricting rules

A combination of national, state, and local rules guide the redistricting process.

Federal Requirements
Population balance: Districts should have very close to the same population Population balance diagram Voting Rights Act compliance: Districts cannot block minority groups from electing candidates of choice Clip art of voting rights demonstrators
Common State and Local Requirements
Communities of Interest: Groups with significant shared interests should be kept together Clip art of farmers Contiguity: Each district should be one connected piece Nesting contiguity diagram
Compactness: District shapes should be “reasonable” Compactness diagram Boundary preservation: District lines should follow natural and official boundaries, such as rivers or town and county borders Boundary preservation diagram

Besides the federal requirements of population balance and the Voting Rights Act, Ohio law specifies that districts be contiguous, compact, and respect political boundaries. The 99 state House districts must nest 3-to-1 inside state Senate districts. And the legislature and its commission must hold a series of public hearings, which will include testimony about communities of interest. For more details, see All About Redistricting: Ohio or the Brennan Center’s Ohio state guide (pdf).