The American Redistricting Project's state pages now include ballot measure processes for all states. Links, statuses, and summaries of active redistricting related ballot measures are also provided.
There are two primary categories of redistricting related ballot measures this election cycle: citizen-initiated amendments and legislatively referred amendments.
The larger group of measures this year are citizen-initiated amendments. These often require a process of drafting, signature collection, and legal review before appearing on the ballot. Despite the significant hurdles, reform groups interested in changing the redistricting processes in their states have increasingly turned to this process in an attempt to enact those changes. Arkansas, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Oregon all had redistricting reform amendments proposed through a citizen-initiated process this year, but none of them made it to the November ballot.
Legislatively referred amendments are sent to voters by state legislatures because the proposed change (or changes) would amend the state’s constitution and must be ratified by voters. Missouri, New Jersey, and Virginia have legislatively referred measures on the ballot this fall. Arizona abandoned theirs.
Initiative: Arkansas Citizens’ Redistricting Commission Amendment. Failed - ruled insufficient.
Proponents: Arkansas Voters First
Signatures Required: 89,151
Collection Deadline: July 6, 2020
Signatures Submitted: 98,728 on July 6, 2020 - later ruled insufficient for failing to adhere to Arkansas law.
Summary: The proposed 9-member Citizen’s Redistricting Commission would be responsible for both congressional and legislative redistricting and replace the current state Board of Apportionment which is only responsible for legislative redistricting. Election officials and the state Board of Election Commissioners have 30 days to verify the signatures collected and approve the proposal’s wording to qualify for the ballot. On July 14, Arkansas' Secretary of State announced that petitioners' signatures were invalid because Arkansas Voters First certified they acquired criminal background checks for their circulators rather than that circulators passed criminal background checks as required in Arkansas law [A.C.A. § 7-9-601(b)(3)]. Supporters of the measure filed a lawsuit in state court on July 17 to try to overturn the Secretary of State's findings. An Eighth Circuit panel overturned a lower court order on July 23 and upheld the state's signature requirements. On August 11, the Arkansas Secretary of State issued a Letter of Insufficiency determining that the number of signatures submitted by Arkansas Voters First was insufficient and therefore the measure does not qualify for a signature cure period or for the November ballot. On August 27, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the Secretary of State's determination. More information on the Arkansas lawsuits are available here (state) and here (federal). Proponents filed a new federal lawsuit on September 2, 2020, to try to have the state Supreme Court's order overturned.
Initiative: Nebraska Redistricting Reform Petition. Failed.
Proponents: Nebraskans for Independent Redistricting
Signatures Required: 121,664
Collection Deadline: July 3, 2020
Signatures Submitted: Ceased collection of signatures on June 24, 2020
Summary: This initiative would have taken the responsibility of drawing congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature and transferred it to a 9-member redistricting commission. Proponents ceased their efforts to collect signatures. Their statement can be read here.
Initiative: Nevada Initiative Petition C-02-2019. Failed.
Proponents: Fair Maps Nevada
Signatures Required: 97,598; 24,400 signatures must be gathered from each congressional district
Collection Deadline: August 5, 2020
Signatures Submitted: Ceased collection of signatures on July 28, 2020
Summary: This initiative would have tasked a 7-member independent redistricting commission with drawing both congressional and legislative districts.
Initiative: The North Dakota Redistricting Initiative Petition. Failed - ruled unconstitutional.
Proponents: North Dakota Voters First
Signatures Required: 26,904
Collection Deadline: July 6, 2020 for November ballot; April 30, 2021 for petition
Signatures Submitted: 36,708 on July 6, 2020
Summary: The initiative would have given the responsibility for legislative redistricting to a 5-member ethics commission, required state senate maps be passed only by a unanimous vote, and called for two state house districts of as equal-as-possible population to be nested in each senate district. The measure would have only impacted legislative redistricting as North Dakota has only one at-Large congressional district. North Dakota Voters First sued in federal court seeking an extension of an unspecified amount of time to gather signatures and that various signature collection rules be waived. North Dakota Voters First submitted their signed petitions on July 6, 2020. On August 11, the Secretary of State announced that Measure 3 qualified for the ballot. The following day, Michael Haugen, the Brighter Future Alliance, and others filed suit against Alvin Jaeger, in his official capacity as North Dakota Secretary of State. The plaintiffs asked the court for a writ of injunction to ensure that Measure 3 would not go in front of voters. On August 25, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the measure unconstitutionally failed to include the full text of the measure.
Initiative: Oklahoma Initiative Petition 426. Withdrawn.
Proponents: People Not Politicians
Signatures Required: 177,958
Collection Deadline: 90 days after determined start date
Signatures Submitted: Withdrawn on July 14, 2020
Summary: Authority to draw congressional and legislative districts transitions from the state legislature to a 9-member independent redistricting commission under this proposal. The state legislature would no longer possess any authority over the redistricting process. Proponents withdrew the measure before signature gathering began.
Proponents: People Not Politicians Oregon
Signatures Required: Originally 149,360 (1,000 preliminary signatures), but now only 58,789.
Collection Deadline: Originally July 2, 2020, but now August 17, 2020.
Signatures Submitted: Currently Circulating
Summary: 3 different citizen initiatives aimed at amending the state constitution failed to obtain the required signatures before the deadline, but a federal judge stepped in and gave the Secretary of State a choice between accepting the signatures collected or slashing the number of signatures required by 50% and extending the deadline. The Secretary of State chose the latter option. Petition 57 gives both congressional and legislative redistricting to a 12-member redistricting commission, whereas Petition 58 deals exclusively with legislative redistricting and Petition 59 addresses just congressional redistricting. If both Petition 58 and Petition 59 pass, one commission will draw both legislative and congressional maps. Proponents had until July 2, 2020 to submit 149,360 signatures, but petitioners must now gather only 58,789 by August 17, 2020. Oregon's Attorney General unsuccessfully sought an emergency stay from the Ninth Circuit. She subsequently appealed to the Supreme court of the United States. On August 11, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the Attorney General's request for a stay. The Ninth Circuit ruled on September 2, 2020, that they had insufficient time to resolve all legal issues so the measure would not appear on the ballot in 2020. More information on the litigation can be found here.
Legislatively Referred Amendments
Amendment: Senate Concurrent Resolution 1018. Failed.
Proponents: Arizona Senate [Senate (16-Y 14-N)]
Summary: This measure sought to limit the population difference between districts to 5,000 residents by amending the Arizona state constitution. The measure failed to be referred out of committee in the House.
Amendment: Senate Joint Resolution No. 38. Referred to November Ballot.
Proponents: Missouri General Assembly [Senate (22-Y 9-N) & (House 98-Y 56-N)]
Summary: The measure tasks an independent bipartisan redistricting commission (rather than a single state demographer) with drawing state legislative districts and seeks to guarantee that districts are contiguous, respect communities of interest, and remain compact.
Amendment: Assembly Concurrent Resolution 188. Referred to November Ballot.
Proponents: New Jersey State Legislature [Senate (25-Y 15-N) & House (51-Y 26-N)]
Summary: The amendment would shift redistricting to 2022 if the Governor of New Jersey receives the state's census data after February 15, 2021. The 2021 legislative elections would be held under the existing lines.
Amendment: Senate Joint Resolution No. 18. Referred to November Ballot.
Summary: This proposed constitutional amendment transfers the responsibility of congressional and legislative redistricting from the General Assembly to a 16-member redistricting commission. The General Assembly will have to approve the commission’s maps before they become law. If maps cannot be adopted, the responsibility of congressional and legislative redistricting falls to the Virginia Supreme Court. Former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman filed a lawsuit against the Amendment on August 27, 2020. The case was dismissed on September 9.