Arizona Redistricting Process

Congressional and Legislative

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission draws the congressional and state legislative districts. The politically appointed five-member Commission has primary responsibility for reapportionment. The President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, and the minority leaders each select one commissioner from among ten democrat, ten republican, and five unaffiliated candidates nominated by the State Commission on Appellate Court Nominations. These four Commissioners are then responsible for choosing the fifth Commissioner, who must be a member of a different political party than the other Commissioners. If the four fail to select a fifth, the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments selects the fifth Commissioner. Of the first four Commissioners, no more than two shall reside in the same county. Each member shall be a registered Arizona voter who has been continuously registered with the same political party or registered as unaffiliated for three or more years immediately preceding appointment. Within the three years previous to appointment, members shall not have been appointed to, elected to, or a candidate for any other public office not including school board, and shall not have served as an officer of a political party, or served as a registered paid lobbyist or as an officer of a campaign committee.

The Redistricting Commission makes the first draft of the congressional and legislative maps available for public comment for a period of at least 30 days. During this period, both chambers of the Arizona Legislature may make recommendations to be considered by the Commission. The Commissioners then establish final district boundaries by a majority vote.

The Legislature determines the manner and the courts lawsuits may be brought against the state.

Source: Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. II. § 1.

Previous Redistricting Cycles


  • Congressional
  • Legislative
    • Commission’s Original Plans
      • Passed = January 17, 2012
      • Preclearance = Granted on April 26, 2012
    • Litigation History
      • Harris v. Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm’n: On April 27, 2012, a group of Arizona voters filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona alleging that the state’s legislative plans contained excessive population variances in violation of the one person, one vote constitutional requirement under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, in addition to claims of impermissible partisan motivations when drawing certain district lines. The federal district court ruled in favor of the defendants, finding that the population deviations were primarily the result of good-faith efforts to comply with the Voting Rights Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed on April 20, 2016.
    • Related Litigation
      • State ex rel. Montgomery v. Mathis, No. 1 CA-CV 12-0068 (Ariz. Ct. App. Dec. 11, 2012): Arising out of an investigation by the Arizona Attorney General into the Independent Redistricting Commission’s pre-mapping actions, the Commission argued that Arizona’s Open Meeting Laws did not apply to the Commission and that the Commission’s communications sought by the Attorney General were protected by legislative immunity. On December 11, 2012, the Arizona Court of Appeals found that the Open Meetings Laws did apply to the Commission to the extent they did not conflict with the Arizona Constitution’s provisions establishing the commission, but affirmed the trial court’s ruling in favor of the Commission and its injunction against further investigation because the State had not appealed the lower court’s ruling that there was no reasonable cause to support the investigation.
      • Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm’n v. Brewer, 275 P.3d 1267 (Ariz. 2012): After being initiated by the Acting Governor, the Arizona Senate voted to remove Commissioner Colleen Mathis from the Independent Redistricting Commission on the grounds she held closed commission meetings and failed to comply with the constitutional map-adjusting criteria. The Commission challenged the removal as unconstitutional, and on April 20, 2012, the Arizona Supreme Court held that Mathis could retain her position because neither of the stated grounds for removal was sufficient cause under the Arizona Constitution.
      • Leach v. Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm’n, No. CV-2012-7344 (Ariz. Super. Ct., Maricopa Cty. Mar. 16, 2017): Several individuals filed a state lawsuit against the state’s independent redistricting commission, alleging the commission failed to follow various procedural and open meeting requirements applicable to the redistricting process. In February 2017, the Maricopa County Superior Court granted summary judgment for the commission, and the plaintiffs did not appeal this decision.
      • Arizona State Legis. v. Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm’n, 576 U.S. 787 (2015): In 2000, Arizona voters approved an initiative petition transferring redistricting authority from the State Legislature to an Independent Redistricting Commission. After the Commission adopted final congressional and legislative plans for the state in 2012, the Arizona State Legislature filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona alleging that the initiative’s transfer of redistricting authority and resulting Commission maps were unconstitutional under the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution. On June 29, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Commission, finding that the Elections Clause does not prohibit the use of citizen-initiated legislative powers to transfer a state’s redistricting authority from the state’s legislature to an independent redistricting commission.


  • Congressional
  • Legislative
    • Commission’s Original Plans
    • Interim Plans
      • Approved by Federal Court = May 29, 2002
      • Used for 2002 election
    • Commission’s Revised Plans
      • Passed = August 14, 2002
      • Preclearance = Granted on February 10, 2003
    • Litigation History
      • Arizona Minority Coalition for Fair Redistricting v. Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm’n, 121 P.3d 843 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2005): This case involved consolidated challenges to the Commission’s congressional plan and revised legislative plans, with plaintiffs alleging that the plans violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and various provisions of the Arizona Constitution involving competitiveness. On October 21, 2005, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling upholding the congressional districts, reversed its ruling invalidating the legislative districts, and remanded the case for consideration under the proper standards. The legislative plans were upheld on remand.
      • Arizona Minority Coalition for Fair Redistricting v. Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm’n II, 208 P.3d 676 (Ariz. 2009): On March 6, 2002, a coalition of voters and organizations filed a state lawsuit challenging the Commission’s adopted legislative plans on the grounds it did not sufficiently favor competitive districts in violation of the Arizona Constitution. The trial court originally invalidated the legislative plans and ordered the Commission to adopt a new one, but on May 20, 2009, the Arizona Supreme Court reversed and upheld the legislative plans as lawful.

Ballot Measure Process

Kinds of Ballot Measures
Direct initiatives and all referendums are permitted to amend statutes. Direct initiatives are permitted to amend the state constitution. Legislatively initiated ballot measures may amend both statutes and the Constitution.

Single-Subject Rule
There is a single subject rule for constitutional amendments, but not for statutory initiatives.

Initiative Subject Restrictions
Referendums may not repeal laws "immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or for the support and maintenance of the departments of the state government and state institutions."

Signature Requirements
The signature requirement for constitutional amendments is 15% of all votes cast for all candidates for governor in the previous general election, 10% for all other initiatives, and 5% for a veto referendum. 2,376,441 people voted for a candidate for governor in the 2018 General Election in Arizona, so 356,467 signatures are required for constitutional amendments, 237,645 signatures are required for any other initiative, and 118,823 signatures are required for a veto referendum.

Submission Deadlines
Initiative petitions must be submitted at least four months prior to the election in which the petition is to appear on the ballot (July 8, 2022). Referendums must be submitted within 90 days after the adjournment of the legislature.

Circulation Period
The circulation period for initiative petitions is 24 months.

Ballot Title and Summary
Proponents write the caption and the Secretary of State drafts the summary, subject to approval by the Attorney General. Expedited reviews for titles and summaries are not permitted.

Other Requirements
A fiscal impact statement is required. Circulators are required to be qualified to register to vote. There are no supermajority requirements. The Legislature cannot repeal an approved measure referring it to the people. The Legislature can only amend the approved measure if the change is in line with the aim of the measure and is approved by a three-fourths majority in the Legislature. Initiatives are permitted on general election ballots, but not on primary or special election ballots or odd-year ballots.

Source: Ariz. Const. art. IV, XXI. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 19 (2019). Arizona Secretary of State Website

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