Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission has announced the new Congressional districts for the state. These districts, which were announced Dec. 22, will be in place until after the 2030 census.
Media reports stated that five of the nine districts appear to favor Republicans, while four appear to favor Democrats.
La Paz County will be in the new District 9. It will be almost the same as the current District 4, except the area of the district that was in Yavapai County has been removed.
District 4 is currently represented by a Republican, Paul Gosar.
The district covers most of Yuma County north of Interstate 8, all of La Paz County, and most of Mohave County. The parts of Mohave County not in District 9 are the Hualapai Reservation and the area around Kaibab. They are not part of the current District 4 either.
The new district also retains an extension into Maricopa County that will reach the western edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area and include Wickenburg.
The redistricting came about as a result of the 2020 national census. Under the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 2), a census must be conducted once every ten years to determine apportionment for the House of Representatives. While every state must have at least one member in the House, the remaining seats are decided by the population of the states.
Arizona has nine seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Arizona Mirror reported state officials were hoping on the state gaining a new House seat, given the state’s population increased from 6.4 million in 2010 to 7.16 million in 2020. The redistricting from the 2020 census was the first time since 1960 that Arizona did not gain a new House seat.
In redrawing the Congressional districts, the IRC had an approximate population of 795,000 in each of Arizona’s districts. Some states have fewer residents per district, while others have more. Montana, for example, gained a new House seat, their second, but their districts have an average population of about 542,000.
Kimball Brace of Election Data Services told the Arizona Mirror that fact the each state must have at least one representative in the House is the reason for the disparity in the average population of each district.
This was the first redistricting in Arizona since the decision in Shelby County, Ala. v Holder was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. Under Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Arizona was one of several states that had been required to get approval from the U.S. Department of Justice for election law changes because they had a history of discriminatory laws.
The Supreme Court ruled this section of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional in that it did not treat all the states the same way.
The IRC was created as a result of Arizona voters passing Prop 106 in 2000. The IRC is a commission made up of two Republicans, two Democrats, and a chairperson with no party affiliation. It was seen as a way to achieve a more fair way of setting legislative districts without the partisan gerrymandering (drawing districts to favor one party or candidate over another) that was seen when the legislature controlled the district lines.