Independent Redistricting Commission

Mission:To administer the fair and balanced redistricting of the Congressional and Legislative districts for the state of Arizona.The Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) was formed by the people of Arizona when they passed Proposition 106 during the 2000 General Election. Prop 106 amended the AZ Constitution to create a five-member commission to oversee the redrawing (or redistricting) of Congressional and Legislative boundaries following the decade Census. The League was very active in the passage of Prop 106 as previous to that time the State Legislature was responsible for redrawing the lines. The League believed that practice resulted in boundaries that served the politicians instead of the people of Arizona. The five-member Redistricting Commission acts independently of the State Legislature.The Commission members are: Colleen Coyle Mathis, Chair (I + Pima Co.) She had been removed from office by the governor and the legislature.
On November 17th, 2011, Mathis was reinstated by the AZ Supreme Court.Scott Day Freeman, Vice Chair (R + Maricopa Co.)
Linda C. McNulty, Commissioner (D + Pima Co.)
Richard P. Stertz, Commissioner (R + Pima Co.)The Commission convened in March, 2011, and picked the attorneys Joe Kanefield and Mary O’Brady from the firms Ballarad Spahr and Osborn Maledon.At the June 29th meeting in Phoenix, the professional mapping firm: Strategic Telemetry, a D.C. based mapping firm, was selected to serve as the group’s mapping consultant.On August 15th, The first set of drafts of the maps was publicized.

On October 3rd, the Commission voted to adopt a draft congressional-district map. As a result of reapportionment, Arizona will have nine seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade.

The Commission hosted 26 hearings around the state so that the public could critique the panel draft congressional and legislative district maps.The hearings took place over 22 days, starting Oct. 11 in Phoenix and concluded Nov. 5 in Casa Grande.

This was the commission’s second set of public hearings. In late July and early August, before drafting maps, commissioners and staff toured the state to get a broad picture of what Arizonans wanted from redistricting. Since mid-August, the commissioners have been working to draft congressional and legislative maps that reflect public sentiment but adhere to the rules set out in the state Constitution.

On October 21st, a special House-Senate committee formed by Republican legislative leaders to make recommendations on the draft maps met for the first time. The committee’s meeting included testimony from commission supporters who urged lawmakers to keep their hands off the process, from Republican Party activists who called the commission’s process tainted, and from local officials who said their communities’ interests had been sacrificed.

On October 27th, Gov.Jan Brewer sent a letter to all five commissioners saying there have been “allegations that you have committed substantial neglect of duty and gross misconduct in office.” The AZ Constitution allows her to remove any commission member, with the consent of two-thirds of the Senate, if she concludes the allegations are true.

On November 1, the governor, who was out of town, had the Secretary of State call a special session of legislature and state senators voted to remove the chairperson Colleen Mathis as being guilty of violating the Open Meeting Law. Senate Minority Leader David Schapira said there is no evidence of misconduct.

On November 4th, attorneys for the Commission asked the state Supreme Court for a stay on the removal, which has left the five-member panel in a 2-2 gridlock. The high court gave Brewer and the Senate until 5 pm on November 7th to respond to this request. Attorneys for Brewer told the court it had no legal right to overturn her decision to oust Mathis as Chair.

On November 7th,the state appellate screening panel met to discuss the replacement process. With Mathis back on the commission,this panel was no longer needed and was dissolved.

The Commission filed suit against the governor and the Legislature.

On November 11th, the League of Women Voters of Arizona (LWVAZ) and the ACDC Coalition filed an Amicus Brief on this suit in support of the commission.

On November 17th, the AZ Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the governor exceeded her authority when she fired Mathis. The court ruled that the firing of Mathis was illegal and that she is reinstated as chairwoman of the Commission.

November 21st, the governor and senate Republicans asked the Supreme Court to block Colleen Mathis from acting as chairwoman, at least for the time being, despite the justices ruling that she was illegally fired.

On December 20th, the commission adopted a tentative congressional map pending analyses by panel’s legal counsel and voter rights consultants and this draft was sent to the Department of Justice in January 2012. It also adopted a legislative district map which was sent to the Department of Justice at the end of February 2012.

The Congressional district map was approved by the Department of Justice on April 4, 2012.

The Legislative districts map was approved by the Department of Justice on April 27.

On April 28, two Fair Trust lawsuits were filed against the IRC. One filed in state court challenges the map of nine U.S. House districts but doesn’t ask for an interim map. The other lawsuit challenging the legislative districts asked that a three-judge panel of federal judges draw an interim legislative map for use in this year’s elections.

On May 3, the Legislature gave House Speaker Tobin authority to file a lawsuit to challenge the existence of the IRC.

On May 21st, challengers to the maps agreed to drop their demand that a three judge panel redraw the lines for the 30 legislative districts.

There are three lawsuits going at this time in August:


  1. One in federal court that alleges commissioners did not follow the proper procedures when dividing up the state into its 30 legislative districts. The next hearing on this case is at the end of October.
  2. A similar challenge is pending in Maricopa County Superior Court over how the maps wre drawn for the congressional districts. This goes before a judge at the end of August.
  3. August 15th, papers were filed in U.S. District Court as the Commission wants a federal judge to rule that state lawmakers are wrong in saying only the Legislature can draw lines for congressional districts.


On September 7, the Commission filed a response in support of its Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit brought in federal court by the Legislature which seeks to get the entirety of Independent Redistricting in Arizona declared unconstitutional.
Previously the AIRC, in its Motion to Dismiss, cited case law showing that the Elections Clause in the US Constitution has been construed by federal courts to mean the legislative process including citizen initiative and referendum. This latest brief expands on that point.

The court case Harris (et al) v AZ Independent Redistricting Commission was heard on March 22, 2013, by a three judge panel in U.S. District court. The final arguments wrapped up on March 30th. Both parties filed closing briefs by April 9th.

As of July 1, 2013, there has been no ruling on this case.

On Oct. 19th, the commission asked the federal court to dismiss what they contend is a power grab by state lawmakers. This filing comes as the commission said lawmakers need to allocate at least another $1.25 million for the balance of this budget year that runs through June 30. The big cost is defending three lawsuits against the commission, including this one filed by the Legislature.

In May 2013, Jose Herrera resigned from the Commission. Thirteen applications were sent to the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments and they will send three names to House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, by June 17th, to appoint one applicant.
On June 28th, Cid R. Kallen,an attorney in Yuma, was picked by House Minority Leader Chad Campbell to replace Jose Herrera. Kallen was sworn in on July 12, 2013.

The lawsuit brought by the AZ Legislature against the Commission was heard at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, 2015. There will be a ruling by early summer.

To see the Congressional and Legislative District maps, visit the commission’s website at Independent Redistricting Commission

The LWVAZ was instrumental in getting this original initiative written in 2000 and passed by the voters.

 Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition

The League has been an active core member of this coalition of organizations and individuals working to promote more competitive districts in the outcome of our redistricting process.ACDC ran the first in the nation contest for the public to try their hand at map drawing to meet all the needs of the Voting Rights Act and competitive districts. Over 300 people listed their `profiles’ on the contest site and tried their hand at a map. And almost 800 maps were attempted. This is a major increase in public involvement and alone a great success.The coalition has run the site for PUBLIC MAPPING at The LWVAZ also contributed funds to the functioning of the site and for contest prize money.On August 2nd, a press conference, conducted by the co-chairs of ACDC, Ken Clark (D) and Roberta Voss (R), was held at the capitol to present prizes to the winners of the public mapping contest. One of the three judges was Tricia Gerrodette, a League member from Cochise County. Barbara Klein, LWVAZ president, oversaw the panel of judges for scheduling and arrangements.The winners of the contest were: Best Congressional maps: Glen Jacques, Phoenix, AZ and Stuart Wright of Ohio. Best Legislative maps: Sam Almy, Tucson, AZ and Glen Jacques, Phoenix, AZ. These winners were each awarded $500. Klein presented the final reports from the judges to the IRC the following day.Read the complete report at Results of Mapping Contest

ACDC (and League members) will continue to work as a `watch dog’ group for the IRC.

Redistricting Process

ARIZONA INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION (AIRC) (The following information is from the public hearing handouts prepared by the AIRC)REDISTRICTING PROCESS
1. Why do we have a Redistricting Commission?

  • This is the 2nd time Arizona’s districts will be redrawn by the AIRC.
  • In 2000 when Arizona voters approved Proposition 106 they created the AIRC and established a process and criteria for drawing new district lines.
  • The commission is made up of two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent chair elected by the other commissioners. The fifth member shall not be registered with any party already represented on the Commission.
  • Current membership of the Commission is listed on the AIRC website.

2. What is Redistricting?

  • Redistricting is the process of redrawing congressional and legislative district lines.

3. What is the difference between redistricting and reapportionment?

  • The two terms are often used interchangeably. Technically, there is a difference.
  • Reapportionment is the process of allocating congressional districts among the states based on changes in population. Because of population growth over the last decade, Arizona was allocated an additional congressional district after the 2010 census, going from eight to nine districts.
  • Redistricting is the process of drawing the actual boundaries of the districts.

4. Why do we have to redistrict?

  • Because AZ gained a congressional district, new lines will have to be drawn to add the new district. Even if AZ had not gained a district, the congressional and legislative district lines would have to be redrawn to account for changes in population. The concept of one-person, one-vote dictates that there should be as close to the same number of people per district as possible.
  • Because the rate of population growth is different in different areas, the existing districts now have different populations.

5. What guidelines need to be followed when drawing new districts?

  • A: Must comply with the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act
  • B: Equal population
    – Criteria A and B are federally mandated. All plans must satisfy these two criteria.
  • C: Compact and Contiguous
  • D: Respect of communities of interest
  • E: Use visible geographic features, city, town and county boundaries, and undivided Census Tracts
  • F: Create competitive districts with no significant detriment to other goals.

6. The AZ Redistricting process

  • Public hearings to collect input
  • Start with a grid map
  • In some states, the previous plans are used as the starting point for the new not the case in AZ. In AZ, the starting point is the grid map per Prop 106 plans. The commencement of the mapping process for both the Congressional and Legislative districts shall be the creation of equal population in a grid-like pattern across the state.
  • The initial grid map will likely only meet criteria B and C
    – Equal Population
    – Compact and Contiguous

Adjusting the grid map to meet the six criteria A. Voting Rights Act
-Arizona’s congressional and legislative districts must receive preclearance or approval from the Department of Justice or a federal court under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act before they can take effect. To get preclearance, Arizona must demonstrate that the new districts do not discriminate against minority voters in purpose or effect, which means there can be no intentional or accidental discrimination.
-Under Section 5, Arizona’s redistricting plans cannot be retrogressive. The plans cannot weaken or reduce minority voters’ rights.
-The presence of discrimination can be determined by analyzing population data and election results.B. EquaL Population C: Compact and contiguous D: Respects communities of interest
-One of the goals of the AIRC public hearings is to solicit public input about communities of interest. There are forms available at these public hearings or on the AIRC website that can be used to define an area that you feel should be considered a community of interest. E: Use visible geographic features
-County boundaries, cities and towns, and census tracts
-Usually Census geography follows visible features F: Create competitive districts where no significant detriment to other goals.

The second round of hearings were done on Nov. 5th.

Email the AIRC at


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