March 31, 2011 Redistricting Plan Public comments to the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission about the Congressional and legislative redistricting plan submitted March 31, 2011.
2011-04-07 I want to let you know that I am NOT in favor of the 1st congressional redistricting map. I do not believe that Pott. County will be well represented if the county remains in the same district as Polk County. Also, the way the map is drawn with all district corners meeting in the middle of Iowa this could have unintended consequences as to the congressional representation. All four US House Congressional members could theoretically live within a narrow radius of each other. Causing the western and eastern edges of Iowa to be ignored and under represented, especially Southwestern Iowa.
2011-04-07 I am concerned that these redistricting maps are not what is best for Iowa. Linn and Johnson county's need to be in the same congressional district. the working arrangement between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City should not be broken. I am concerned that Benton and Tama Counties do not have the same senator. Tama Benton and Grundy counties are working together on may county budget items. I know that this map will guarantee 3 democratic federal legislatures. I hope you will not endorse this map, I know the second will be better.
2011-04-07 Redistricting Congressional and Regional Economic Development Corridors: 4/7/11 Iowa’s process for drawing redistricting maps is recognized and rightfully respected as effective in eliminating one of the banes of our two-party election system. This bane is the two-party system’s strong incentive to draw political district maps for partisan advantage, which is commonly known as gerrymandering. "Iowa’s system for drawing the redistricting maps eliminates gerrymandering by having guidelines that ban access to partisan information on political affiliation, election results, and incumbents’ addresses. In this letter, I want to suggest our redistricting system needs a better perspective on the tradeoff between the degree of population equality across districts and the degree of continuity and compactness of districts. The continuity and compactness of districts deserves a higher relative value than it is currently being given because it is not only positive for voters and candidates, it is also positive for economic development. The question that deserves a look is how much improvement in continuity and compactness can be gained for each additional percentage of population inequality. I do not see as large loss in voter rights or ‘power’ in a variation in district populations as the current system seems to value. I find the goal of having not more than 1% in variation, artificially high. This high standard of equality is not needed for the sake of keeping the system non-partisan. It seems to have taken on being an end unto itself. We lost our fifth seat because our population growth was less than the national average. Population growth is parallel to economic growth. The reduction to four congressional districts means the size of our districts will in increase by 18%. This loss of voter power of 18% puts a 2% inequality in population in a district in perspective. A loss of voter power of 2% or even more is small compared to the effect of loosing a seat due to our economic development being below average. A subset of the improved continuity side of this tradeoff is to not split the two centers at the ends of a growing economic development corridor because of the math of population equality, -- if there are alternatives. The trading of Davenport into the 2nd district for Cedar Rapids into the 1st District is apparently because of a mathematical process toward the goal of population equality. I ask the Legislative Services Agency and or the Legislature to reconsider this tradeoff in light of its potential effect on the growing synergy in economic development between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Economic development likes predictability. Let’s think of a continuity of policies and political networks besides the continuity of area. This is a significant amount of change for the political process. And such change does not improve the predictability that economic development likes. Economic development likes efficiency. A growing economic development corridor has a shared labor market and a shared media market. Introducing two congressional campaigns and two political party support networks onto the two ends of a development corridor does not improve efficiency in the political process nor communication between the development community and the political networks. Some suggest that splitting a corridor could create an advantage of having two congressional votes. On the other hand, what if the two congresspersons are from different parties and prefer different philosophies and programs for economic development? Another question is whether part of two congresspersons is better than one whole congressperson? There are no provable answers to these questions. Why change what we have to satisfy an extremely high standard for the relative sizes of district sizes? The loss of our fifth congressional seat means that the size of our four new congressional districts will be 761,000 persons, whereas if we would have been able to keep five districts, the size would have been about 646,000 persons and this includes the addition of their growth in population over the last ten years. This is an increase in population per district of around18%. This could be viewed as a loss of the much valued voter power of 18% for all Iowans. The loss of our fifth seat is the political penalty because our population and economic growth was less than the national average. An increase in the variation in population equality within districts beyond the 1% standard for the purpose of improving continuity in area, policies, and political networks deserves to be considered. It could be that this improved continuity is also good for economic development, especially in some areas. Clark Rieke 319 521-5212 CRieke@mchsi.com 1614 D Ave NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
2011-04-07 This plan is a disgrace for constitution loving Iowan's Please vote to not accept this plan. Western Iowa does not want to be included with Des Moines. Do not Accept this plan.
2011-04-07 To the Legislative Services Agency and those it may concern: Putting Polk county in District 3 changes the conservative base we enjoy in the current District 5. Please retain Pottawattamie County in the new redistricting plan and move Polk County to a different district. Thank you for your serious consideration. Nancy Devonshire Shenandoah
2011-04-06 To the Legislative Services Agency and those it may concern; Since the redistricting effort is supposed to be a "non-partisan" effort, I would like to know the political make-up of the group responsible for the decisions that were made. It seems that the results heavily favor the Democrat party and let's not kid ourselves, this effort is purely political as it is redistricting for political purposes. What is the logic behind grouping Pottawattamie and Polk counties into the same congressional district? Both counties are highly populated areas and they are squeezed into the smallest geographical district. This not only dilutes the conservative base of Pottawattamie County by adding Polk County, but makes it the smallest of the new districts geographically and the least diverse in terms of a rural/urban balance. Leaving Pottawattamie County in the district in which our current representative Steve King lives would have created a more representative balance in both aspects. With this new plan, Steve King's district is cut in half and we stand to lose his representation, more importantly, he loses Pottawattamie county as a base. These reasons are not the least of which I am strongly opposed to this initial redistricting map. Michael Patomson Council Bluffs
2011-04-06 Are you kidding me??? This make up is no way non partisan. Who in the world came up with this anyway? Why in the world would you add Des Moines and Council Bluffs in the same district? And now we here in Decatur county the poorest county in the state jumps into a highly democratic based set up. We are doomed if this goes forward. No I do not like this map set up.
2011-04-06 [*The following text has been pasted from a PDF version of a report entitled, "Congressional Redistricting in Iowa: Comments in Opposition to the First Redistricting Plan of 2011."] COVER PAGE [Omitted] James D. Davis 4940 Center Court Bettendorf, IA 52722 Jamesddavis2011@gmail.com April 6, 2011 Maggie Tinsman Chairperson Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission 1007 East Grand Avenue, Suite 303 Des Moines, IA 50319-0003 Dear Chairperson Tinsman: As you may recall, I attended the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission’s public hearing regarding the first redistricting plan prepared by the Legislative Services Agency in Bettendorf on Tuesday, April 5, 2011. While I had hoped to communicate some of the concerns set forth in the following report entitled, “Congressional Redistricting in Iowa: Comments in Opposition to the First Redistricting Plan of 2011,” it has taken until this evening to complete the document with the assistance of an attorney with extensive expertise into the areas of election law, constitutional law, and Iowa’s redistricting process. Today, I am respectfully submitting this report pursuant to Chapter 42 of the Iowa Code for consideration by the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission, the Legislative Services Agency, and the Iowa legislature. Due to statutory deadlines associated with public input, as well as the Commission’s own deadlines, this report was prepared under severe time constraints and, by necessity, is limited in scope to congressional districts. For reasons set forth herein, particularly due to the failure of the Legislative Services Agency to adhere to the laws of the state of Iowa in establishing congressional districts, it is recommended that the first redistricting plan of 2011 be rejected in favor of an improved plan that will foster greater public confidence Iowa’s congressional redistricting process and foster a greater sense of fairness and equity in Iowa’s federal representation. Furthermore, I respectfully request that this report be appended to the Commission’s official report to the Iowa legislature pursuant to Chapter 42.6 of the Iowa Code. Please accept my gratitude for the hard work, dedication, and non-partisan service of your Commission, and I hope this report may contribute some value to the important work of your Commission, the Legislative Services Agency, and the Iowa legislature. Sincerely, Jim Davis TABLE OF CONTENTS [Omitted] EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Factual Background On March 31, 2011, the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) submitted a congressional redistricting plan for the state of Iowa. Under the U.S. Constitution, population variances among congressional districts must be “unavoidable despite a good-faith effort to achieve absolute equality, or for which justification [by the state] is shown." Under Iowa law, five standards must be used to establish congressional districts, including population equality, contiguousness, whole counties, convenience, and compactness. Analysis An analysis of Iowa’s legal requirements for congressional redistricting shows that the LSA has failed to adhere to Iowa state law when it produced the first congressional redistricting map of 2011. More specifically, the LSA has exceeded its legal authority by selectively applying redistricting standards to produce the current map, it has adopted an erroneous interpretation of the convenience standard under Chapter 42.4 of the Iowa Code, and it has relied upon other erroneous interpretations of state and federal law. Adopting the current plan would undermine the legitimacy of Iowa’s redistricting process and, in our democratic system, the Iowa legislature is obligated to closely monitor and oversee the work of the LSA to ensure that it performs its functions consistent with democratically passed laws. Recommendations 1. The Iowa legislature should reject the first congressional redistricting plan in favor of a plan that will foster greater public confidence in Iowa’s congressional redistricting process and a greater sense of fairness and equity in Iowa’s federal representation. 2. The Iowa legislature should provide more effective oversight of the LSA regarding the consistent application of congressional redistricting standards. 3. The Iowa legislature should instruct the LSA to analyze each redistricting standard set forth in Iowa law and to provide sufficient information by which the legislature and the general public can evaluate the application of such standards. 4. The Iowa legislature should instruct the LSA on the proper meaning of the convenience standard and insist upon the faithful application of the standard as written. 5. The Iowa legislature should instruct the LSA to apply the congressional redistricting standards as adopted by Iowa’s elected officials and correct the LSA’s prior misinterpretations of state and federal law. 6. The citizens of Iowa should insist that the Iowa legislature approve a congressional redistricting plan that adheres to Iowa law, and they should begin to explore alternative options if the legislature fails to do so. I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND A. Overview The state of Iowa and other states around the county are in the midst of establishing new congressional districts through the decennial process commonly known as “congressional redistricting.” The congressional redistricting process, governed by Iowa state law within the parameters of the U.S. Constitution, is intended to reestablish geographic boundaries for congressional districts in Iowa. The 2011 process in Iowa has been impacted by a separate constitutional process commonly known as “congressional reapportionment,” which determines how many congressional districts each state will be allocated. Based on national populations identified by the 2010 census data, the state of Iowa has been informed that, beginning in 2013, it will be apportioned only four congressional districts, a reduction of one federal representative (and electoral college vote). In addition, the data indicated that, as of April 1, 2010, Iowa’s resident population was 3,046,355. Consequently, the ideal population for each of Iowa’s four new congressional districts will be 761,589. B. Constitutional Requirements Although the U.S. Constitution specifically addresses how representatives should be apportioned among states, it does not specifically address how congressional districts should be determined within states, a responsibility traditionally left to state legislatures. Article I, 2, simply states that federal representatives are to be “chosen every second Year by the People of the several States.” Since deciding Wesberry v. Sanders in 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently interpreted this clause to mean that, “as nearly as is practicable[,] one man's vote in a congressional election is to be worth as much as another's,” more commonly referred to as “one person, one vote.” To determine whether this constitutional standard has been met, the Supreme Court has consistently held, beginning in Kirkpatrick v. Preisler, that population variances among congressional districts, must be “unavoidable despite a good-faith effort to achieve absolute equality, or for which justification [by the state] is shown." The Kirkpatrick standard, therefore, involves a two-prong test. First, it must be determined whether a population variance among congressional districts could have been further reduced by a good-faith effort. This is generally established when a party challenging a redistricting plan proves that an alternate plan could have produced a lower population variance. Notably, the Supreme Court has consistently held that there is no “de minimis” exception to the general rule that population variances must be unavoidable, i.e., the lowest variation possible. If the challenging party cannot meet its burden of proof, the plan should be upheld. Second, even if the party meets its burden on the first prong, the plan will still be upheld as constitutional if the state proves that the avoidable variances “were necessary to achieve some legitimate state objective.” In Karcher v. Daggett, the Supreme Court expounded on several types of state objectives would qualify as legitimate. After noting that “[a]ny number of consistently applied legislative policies might justify some variance,” it listed several non-exclusive illustrative examples, such as “making districts compact, respecting municipal boundaries, preserving the cores of prior districts, and avoiding contests between incumbent Representatives.” Illegitimate objectives include considerations of “economic or other sorts of group interests,” “history alone,” avoiding fragmenting “political subdivisions,” and “constituency-representative relations.” To meet its burden on the second prong, the state must show “with some specificity that a particular objective required the specific deviations in its plan, rather than simply relying on general assertions.” Meeting this specificity standard is “flexible” and depends on the facts of each case, but factors to be considered include “the size of the deviations, the importance of the State's interests, the consistency with which the plan as a whole reflects those interests, and the availability of alternatives that might substantially vindicate those interests yet approximate population equality more closely.” C. Iowa Standards & Procedures While the U.S. Constitution establishes the parameters within which congressional redistricting plans must fit, responsibility for determining applicable standards and procedures for congressional redistricting is the province of the states. In Iowa, standards for congressional redistricting are derived from the Iowa Constitution and the Iowa Code. Consistent with the ‘one person, one vote’ principle, Iowa law requires congressional districts to have, as nearly as practicable, equal population of congressional districts. But the state of Iowa also requires the simultaneous consideration of several longstanding legislative policies and state objectives that are enshrined in law. For example, pursuant to Art. III, 37, of the Iowa Constitution, congressional districts must include contiguous and whole counties. In addition, the Iowa Code requires that district territory not only be contiguous, but also convenient. These standards are equally important under Iowa law as the population equality standard. Moreover, and consistent with the aforementioned standards, districts must be reasonably compact, which the Iowa legislature has defined as districts that are “square, rectangular, or hexagonal in shape, and not irregularly shaped, to the extent permitted by natural or political boundaries.” To compare the compactness between districts or plans, a recent amendment to the statute requires the use of a ‘length-width compactness’ test and a ‘perimeter compactness’ test. In addition to listing required standards, Iowa law also expressly forbids consideration of certain political and demographic data. For example, congressional districts cannot “be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent legislator or member of Congress, or other person or group, or for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a language or racial minority group.” Consequently, districts cannot be constructed by using the addresses of incumbents, political affiliations of registered voters, prior election results, or demographic information other than population head counts. These standards and objectives are applied through a longstanding congressional redistricting process in Iowa. Unlike most other states, Iowa’s process is specifically designed to minimize the risk of manipulation by politicians for electoral advantage by dividing power between a non-partisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA), the Iowa legislature, the Governor of Iowa, and potentially the Iowa Supreme Court. A Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission (Commission) supports the work of the LSA. Legislative Services Agency: The role of the LSA is to, among other things, obtain and use U.S. census data to prepare and deliver to the secretary of the Iowa Senate and the chief clerk of the Iowa House of Representatives identical bills that embody a redistricting plan, no later than April 1. The LSA is required to publicly release copies of the bill, maps, a summary of the standards used to create the plan, and population data and population deviations for each district included in the plan. If the Iowa legislature rejects the first bill, the LSA must prepare a second bill and submit it to the legislature within 35 days of the rejection of the first. If the legislature also rejects the second bill, the LSA must prepare a third bill under the same procedures as the prior bill. Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission: The role of the Commission is to support the LSA in one of four ways. First, if the LSA confronts a decision for which no clear guideline exists, it may request guidance from the Commission. Second, the Commission may establish policies to govern the LSA’s external sharing of information, excluding census data, prior to the deliverance of the redistricting bill to the legislature. Third, once the redistricting bill has been delivered to the legislature, the Commission must hold at least three public hearings across the state to gather public input. Fourth, the Commission must prepare and submit a report to the legislature within 14 days after the submission of the redistricting bill to summarize the information and public testimony received by the Commission. The report must include any comments which its members deem appropriate or that are otherwise presented to the commission. Iowa Legislature: The role of the Iowa legislature is to vote ‘up or down’ on the first bill submitted by the LSA that embodies the redistricting plan. The vote must occur “expeditiously,” but at least four days after the Commission submits its report. If the bill is rejected, the legislature must transmit information to the LSA via resolution regarding the reasons for rejecting the bill. Once the LSA submits a second bill to the legislature, another up or down vote must occur, but at least eight days after the bill is submitted. If the second bill is similarly rejected, the legislature must follow the same procedure as the last bill. Once the LSA submits a third bill to the legislature, which should be “sufficiently in advance of September 1,” another vote must occur at least eight days after the bill is submitted, but unlike the first two plans, the legislature may offer amendments to the bill. Iowa Governor: The role of the Iowa Governor is to sign or veto a bill approved by the Iowa legislature. Iowa Supreme Court: If the legislature fails to enact a redistricting plan by September 1, the Iowa Constitution specifically directs the Iowa Supreme Court to establish new legislative districts, but does not specifically address congressional districts. However, the Iowa Constitution also provides that the Iowa Supreme Court has authority to review any apportionment plan adopted by the legislature, which would apparently include congressional redistricting plans, upon a verified application to the court by any qualified elector. Therefore, as a last resort, the Iowa Supreme Court could be the ultimate decision-maker regarding congressional redistricting plans in Iowa. D. Redistricting Plans Since the Iowa legislature adopted the modern statutory framework for congressional redistricting, the LSA (and its predecessor) has submitted seven congressional redistricting plans to the Iowa legislature, three of which have been approved. 1981 Redistricting Plans: The 1981 redistricting process, the lengthiest process to date under the modern redistricting statute, required the LSA to submit three plans before being approved by the legislature. The length of this process was likely due, in part, to the growing pains of the new process, as well as the initial untimely receipt of certified census figures from the federal government. In fact, the LSA noted the delay of census figures in its first report and concluded that the single biggest challenge “in preparing the [first] plan was the lack of adequate time.” The LSA submitted its first report on April 22, 1981, and noted that it had considered “[m]any possible congressional plans.” In summarizing the standards it used to select the first plan, the LSA noted that the congressional map contained “the best population standards of the plans developed by the Bureau,” while also admitting that it could not “be sure that this plan is the best plan possible.” In addition to population equity, the LSA referenced the constitutional requirement that counties be whole and that the plan resembled the geographic structure of existing congressional districts. The statistical metrics and standards relied upon by the LSA in its analysis included: (1) a mean deviation percentage variance of 0.0392%, (2) an absolute mean deviation of 190.166 (the LSA incorrectly stated this figure as 190.3), (3) a population range ratio of 1.0019, (4) an average absolute length-width compactness of 11.43, (5) an average length-width ratio of 1.331, and (6) an average population dispersion of 0.8068. Notably, the LSA failed to analyze two mandatory standards under Iowa law, including contiguousness and convenience. The Commission held three hearings at the end of April and beginning of May in Des Moines, Iowa City, and Sioux City. Based on these hearings, the Commission recommended, among other things, that the legislature reject the first plan. The legislature followed the Commission’s recommendation and rejected the first plan when it submitted Senate Resolution 17. The resolution urged the LSA to more effectively comply with three standards required under Iowa law, namely convenience, contiguity, and compactness (two of which the LSA had failed to analyze at all). In addition, the resolution sought to clarify that existing congressional districts were valid considerations in establishing new districts so long as the residence of incumbents were not considered. Although the LSA did not categorically reject the potential use of existing districts, it noted that, based on the population data that it was working with, utilizing such criteria was in potential conflict with other standards. The LSA submitted its second report on June 17, 1981, and noted that it had sought the Commission’s guidance on three questions, one of which impacted congressional districts. The LSA asked, “If the Bureau is confronted with two plans, one having the best average district deviation of population, and one having the best population variance ratio, is it permissible to use the standard deviation measurement in determining which plan has the best population?” The Commission recommended using the standard deviation measurement to resolve the conflict, but not to the extent of replacing other legally required standards. In summarizing the standards it used to select the second congressional map, the LSA stated that it made its selection “primarily on population considerations and the Iowa Constitution,” thus largely excluding other legally required standards such as convenience and compactness. The LSA also stated that, on its own accord, it had used and interpreted case law in choosing which standards to apply. The LSA noted that its second map selection was focused on two plans – one of which had a better average population deviation and the other of which had a better population variance ratio. The LSA selected the second plan on the basis of the Commission’s recommendation to use standard deviation as a preferred metric. The statistical metrics and standards relied upon by the LSA in its analysis of the second plan included: (1) a mean deviation percentage variance of 0.033%, (2) a population range ratio of 1.0012, (3) an average absolute length-width compactness of 14.73, (4) an average length-width ratio of 1.38, and (5) an average population dispersion of 0.8438. Notably, the LSA failed to analyze the absolute mean deviation as it did under the first plan and again failed to analyze the contiguous and convenience standards as required under Iowa law. The legislature also rejected the second plan. The LSA submitted its third and final report on July 24, 1981. In proposing the third plan, the LSA again emphasized the importance of population equality for congressional districts, but acknowledged the need to consider the other standards set by the legislature. “While population equality is the overriding and highest standard considered in congressional plans, the remaining standards of Chapter 42 cannot be completely ignored in establishing congressional districts," the LSA noted. The statistical metrics and standards relied upon by the LSA in its analysis of the third plan included: (1) a mean deviation percentage variance of 0.013%, (2) a population range ratio of 1.0005, (3) an average absolute length-width compactness of 17.42, (4) an average length-width ratio of 1.46, and (5) an average population dispersion of 0.8695. The LSA again failed to analyze the absolute mean deviation, as well as the contiguous and convenience standards required to be considered for congressional districts under Iowa law. Nonetheless, the legislature approved the third plan. 1991 Redistricting Plan: Unlike the lengthy process of a decade prior, the Iowa legislature approved the first plan submitted by the LSA on April 15, 1991. The statistical metrics and standards relied upon by the LSA in its analysis of the plan included: (1) an absolute mean deviation of 99.6, (2) a mean deviation percentage variance of 0.0179%, (3) a population range ratio of 1.00048, (4) an overall absolute population range of 265, and (5) an overall population range percentage variance of 0.05%. Notably, the LSA failed to analyze the compactness standard and although the LSA allegedly considered the convenience and contiguousness standards, it did not provide information or analyses pertaining to either standard. The Commission held three hearings at the end of April 1991 in Council Bluffs, Des Moines, and Cedar Rapids. Based on these hearings and a review of the plan, the majority of the Commission members concluded “that the [first] plan is an excellent one, fully complies with all statutory criteria, and should be enacted into law.” A minority report was submitted by one member who favored an alternative plan that purported to have a lower population variance. Nonetheless, the legislature approved the first plan. 2001 Redistricting Plans: The LSA submitted its first plan on April 12, 2001. The statistical metrics and standards relied upon by the LSA in its analysis of the first plan included: (1) an absolute mean deviation of 130.2, (2) a mean deviation percentage variance of 0.02%, (3) a population range ratio of 1.00083, (4) an overall absolute population range of 483, (5) an overall population range percentage variance of 0.08%, and (6) an average absolute length-width compactness of 72.47. Notably, as in prior years, the LSA failed to analyze the convenience and contiguousness standards. In mid-April, the Commission held three hearings in Des Moines, Iowa City, and Sioux City. Based on these hearings, the majority of the Commission members recommended, among other things, that the legislature reject the first plan. The legislature followed the Commission’s recommendation and rejected the first plan when it submitted Senate Resolution 50 on the grounds that the population deviations of districts could be improved, congressional districts “should better reflect the convenient, contiguous territory of our state,” and both congressional and legislative districts should reflect “urban and rural interests in our state to the extent consistent with the Iowa Code.” The LSA submitted its second report on June 1, 2001, which contained several responses to the legislature. For example, in responding to the request for better population equality, the LSA stated that, although Iowa law does not mandate “a certain population equality standard for the second or third Congressional plan different from that prescribed for the first, the requirements of the United States Constitution mandate that a second proposed Congressional redistricting plan must have equal or lower population deviations than the first plan submitted.” The LSA did not provide any legal citation to support this assertion. In addition, the LSA noted that the standards pertaining to political subdivisions (whole counties), convenience, and contiguousness are not “subservient to population equality under Iowa law.” Perhaps most notably, the LSA responded in depth to the legislature’s desire to improve upon the convenience and contiguousness standards, and it ultimately formulated a new metric by which to judge convenience. It noted that while Iowa law helps to define the meaning of contiguous territory, it does not provide “a specific objective measurement for determining” convenient territory. “Following submission of the first proposed redistricting plan,” the LSA stated, “[we] determined that an objective means for comparing [the convenience of] possible plans would be to compare the total number of miles needed to traverse the perimeters of all of the districts in a plan. In essence, the more irregular and oddly shaped the districts in a plan, the greater the number of miles needed to traverse the perimeters of the districts in that plan.” It referred to this new standard as a ‘total perimeter score.’ The LSA also declined the legislature’s invitation to consider urban and rural interests because it was not a legal requirement and “no objective geographic map-building units exist from the Census Bureau” to consider such interests. The statistical metrics and standards relied upon by the LSA in its analysis of the second plan included: (1) an absolute mean deviation of 47, (2) a mean deviation percentage variance of 0.00803%, (3) a population range ratio of 1.0002289, (4) an overall absolute population range of 134, (5) an overall population range percentage variance of 0.023%, (6) an average absolute length-width compactness of 56.65, and (7) a total perimeter score of 3,132.635. The legislature approved the second plan. 2011 Redistricing Plan: The LSA submitted its first report to the Iowa legislature on March 31, 2011. Of particular note, in a section entitled “Selection Standards for Congressional Districts,” the LSA selected only two standards to establish congressional districts, including population equality and respect for political subdivisions. The LSA made no mention of other legally mandated standards, such as contiguousness, convenience, and compactness. Not only did it fail to include these standards as applicable standards for congressional districts, it failed to analyze and explain how it applied any standards in drafting the first plan. It simply included a statistical table with raw metrics, including: (1) an absolute mean deviation of 29.25, (2) a mean deviation percentage variance of 0.00384%, (3) a population range ratio of 1.0000997, (4) an overall absolute population range of 76, (5) an overall population range percentage variance of 0.01%, (6) an average absolute length-width compactness of 66.68, and (7) a total perimeter score of 2,692.27. The plan is currently under consideration by the Iowa legislature. II. ANALYSIS A. The Iowa legislature must closely monitor and oversee the work of the Legislative Services Agency to ensure that it is performing its functions consistent with the laws passed by the people’s elected representatives. For over 30 years, the state of Iowa has utilized a congressional redistricting model that is notable because, among other things, the Iowa legislature has voluntarily delegated its own legal authority to formulate, though not decide, congressional redistricting plans to the LSA, a non-partisan and independent agency that operates outside the pressures and responsibilities of the political process. Proponents have argued that the independent nature of the LSA allows congressional districts to be established with minimal manipulation of the redistricting process by politicians for electoral advantage, and the Iowa experience appears to have largely validated this argument. At the same time, delegating authority to an independent panel is not without risks, which should be acknowledged and managed by the people’s elected representatives in the Iowa legislature. It should be recalled, after all, that there is a name for the political process that the LSA is isolated from – it is called democracy. And however ‘dirty’ one may perceive the process to be, democracy is the very means by which the people of Iowa govern themselves and hold their government accountable. Independent panels like the LSA are, in a sense, exceptions to the democratic process. This, in turn, places an even greater responsibility on the Iowa legislature, as representatives of the people of Iowa, to closely monitor and oversee the work of the LSA to ensure the agency is performing the limited functions that have been assigned to it in a manner that is consistent with democratic theory and the laws that have been adopted by their elected representatives. B. The Legislative Services Agency has established a pattern of selectively applying redistricting standards which undermines the legitimacy of the redistricting process. The central function of the LSA, as it pertains to congressional redistricting in Iowa, is to formulate congressional redistricting plans based on the constitutional and statutory standards that have been adopted by Iowa’s elected representatives. Since 1980, these standards have included: (1) population equality, (2) contiguousness, (3) whole counties, (4) convenience, and (5) compactness. By law, each of these standards must be used to establish congressional districts, without exception, and the legislature has not vested the LSA with discretionary authority to selectively apply these standards. Even if one of Iowa’s current redistricting standards were unable to withstand court scrutiny – and there is no indication, based on federal case law, that such a scenario is possible – it would not be the proper role of the LSA to interpret case law on its own accord and attempt to modify democratically enacted standards; instead, it is the job of the legislature, directly accountable to the people of Iowa, to modify standards in accordance with court decisions if the need arises. Since Iowa’s redistricting standards were established in 1980, however, the LSA has failed to consistently consider and apply each of these standards and has, instead, established a pattern of selectively applying standards using discretionary authority it does not maintain. In some years, the LSA has failed to analyze legally mandated redistricting standards at all. For example, in each of the three plans submitted in 1981, the LSA failed to analyze the convenience standard. In 1991, the LSA failed to analyze the compactness standard and although it allegedly considered the convenience standard, it failed to provide any information or analysis by which the legislature or the public could evaluate the application of the standard. In its first plan in 2001, the LSA again failed to analyze the convenience standard and when the legislature implored it to do so in its second plan, as explained in further detail elsewhere in this report, the LSA adopted an erroneous interpretation of the convenience standard, as well as an erroneous metric by which to measure its erroneous interpretation. This pattern has continued in the 2011 plan currently under consideration. In a section entitled “Selection Standards for Congressional Districts,” the LSA has ‘selected’ only two out of the five legally mandated redistricting standards to formulate the proposed congressional districts, including ‘population equality’ and ‘respect for political subdivisions’ – the latter of which applies not to congressional districts (congressional districts are required under the Iowa Constitution to simply consist of whole counties), but instead applies to legislative districts. Most importantly, however, the ‘selection standards’ chosen by the LSA exclude from the LSA’s considerations the contiguousness, convenience, and compactness standards, in direct contravention of Iowa law. But even when the LSA has applied legally mandated standards, it has used different metrics by which to measure the same standard – not only over time, but occasionally in the very same year. For example, in measuring population equality in 1981, the LSA used absolute mean deviation in the first plan, but abandoned it in the second and third plans submitted in 1981, only to return to it again in 1991. Similarly, in 1981, the LSA used three separate metrics by which to judge compactness, including total length-width compactness, average length-width compactness ratio, and average population dispersion compactness. But by 1991, the LSA had abandoned all three of these metrics in favor of no metric. Based on the foregoing, the LSA has clearly exercised discretionary authority that has not been delegated by the Iowa legislature and in a manner that undermines the credibility of the congressional redistricting process in Iowa. It is recommended, therefore, that the Iowa legislature provide more effective oversight of the LSA regarding the consistent application of redistricting standards that have been democratically adopted by the people’s representatives of Iowa. In addition, it is recommended that the legislature instruct the LSA to analyze each redistricting standard as set forth in Iowa law and provide sufficient information by which the legislature and the general public can evaluate the application of such standards. C. The Legislative Services Agency has failed to adhere to the redistricting standards set forth in the Iowa Constitution and Iowa Code in establishing the 2011 congressional redistricting map. In addition to selectively applying congressional redistricting standards, the LSA has simply failed to adhere all five standards set forth in the Iowa Constitution and the Iowa Code. By law, five standards must be used to establish congressional districts, including population equality, contiguousness, whole counties, convenience, and compactness. But, as stated above, when the LSA submitted the first congressional map of 2011, it only selected ‘population equality’ and ‘respect for political subdivisions’ as standards for establishing congressional districts. The end result is that that LSA has failed to adhere to Iowa law when it submitted the 2011 congressional redistricting map. It is recommended, therefore, that the Iowa legislature instruct the LSA to analyze each redistricting standard set forth in law and to provide sufficient information by which the legislature and the general public can evaluate the application of such standards. D. The Legislative Services Agency has adopted an erroneous interpretation of the convenience standard under Chapter 42.4 of the Iowa Code. Pursuant to Chapter 42.4 of the Iowa Code, “[d]istricts shall be composed of convenient contiguous territory.” At the time this language was adopted, in 1980, district territory was already required to be contiguous pursuant to a 1968 amendment to the Iowa Constitution, but territory was not required to be convenient. Consequently, it is logical to conclude that the import of Chapter 42.4 was to supplement the existing requirement of contiguous territory with the additional substantive requirement that territory be convenient. This convenience requirement has remained unaltered in statute for three decades, constituting a longstanding legislative objective for congressional redistricting in Iowa. Unlike other standards set forth in Iowa’s redistricting statute, however, the convenience standard was not further defined in statute. For example, the statute further defined the contiguous standard by stating, “[a]reas which meet only at the points of adjoining corners are not contiguous.” Similarly, and more recently, the compactness standard is now accompanied by not only a description of compact districts (“square, rectangular, or hexagonal in shape, and not irregularly shaped, to the extent permitted by natural or political boundaries”), but specific metrics have also been explicitly established to compare the compactness of two or more districts or plans. These two metrics include length-width compactness (“the absolute value of the difference between the length and the width of the district”) and perimeter compactness (“the distance needed to traverse the perimeter boundary of a district is as short as possible”). Despite Iowa’s longstanding legislative objective of pursuing ‘convenient contiguous territory’ for congressional districts, however, the LSA failed to expressly apply or address this standard in the first five congressional redistricting plans it submitted from 1981 through 2001, in contravention of the Iowa Code. It was not until the Iowa legislature rejected the LSA’s first plan in 2001 and explicitly directed the LSA to “better reflect the convenient, contiguous territory of our state” in the second plan that the LSA finally addressed the convenience standard in one of its reports. In response to the legislature’s 2001 instruction to address the convenient standard, the LSA acknowledged in its second report that, from 1991 through 2001, it had interpreted the convenience standard to mean that redistricting plans must not contain “irregularly shaped districts, districts with narrow connections, and districts that are excessively long from north to south or from east to west.” But these considerations apply not to the convenience standard, but to the compactness standard, an entirely different standard with its own requirements that must be met under the Iowa Code. For example, the LSA stated in its report that it had interpreted the convenience standard to forbid “irregularly shaped” districts. Yet, pursuant to Chapter 42.4(3) of the Iowa Code, that is the very definition of a compact district, not a convenient district. Not only did the LSA adopt an erroneous interpretation of the convenience standard, it simultaneously adopted an erroneous metric by which to measure its erroneous interpretation. In its second report of 2001, the LSA inserted a conclusory statement, without rationale or analytical support, that it had “determined that an objective means for comparing [the convenience of] possible plans would be to compare the total number of miles needed to traverse the perimeters of all of the districts in a plan.” The LSA referred to this metric as a ‘total perimeter score.’ But just as its interpretation of the convenience standard adopted the meaning of compactness under the Iowa Code, so too did its metric draw upon one of the statutory metrics required to measure compactness, not convenience. For example, pursuant to Chapter 42.4(4) of the Iowa Code, the compactness of districts or plans is required to be measured using a ‘perimeter compactness’ test which states that, “[t]he compactness of a district is greatest when the distance needed to traverse the perimeter boundary of a district is as short as possible.” In short, the ‘total perimeter score,’ which is being used by the LSA to measure the convenience of all districts within a plan, is the sum of the ‘perimeter compactness’ tests used to measure compactness for individual districts. When the LSA submitted its first plan in 2011, currently being considered by the Iowa legislature, it included a statistical summary of the standards used by the LSA to formulate congressional districts. Within this statistical summary the LSA included the ‘total perimeter score,’ presumably for the purpose of measuring convenience. If so, it is apparent that the LSA has again adopted an erroneous interpretation and metric for convenience. If not, the LSA has once again failed to properly address or analyze the convenience standard as required by Iowa law. Furthermore, pursuant to Chapter 42.4(3) of the Iowa Code, the convenience standard applies to individual districts, not “all of the districts in a plan” as the total perimeter score purports to measure. Moreover, there is no logical relationship between the convenience standard and the total perimeter score, i.e., the distance needed to traverse the perimeters of districts. By utilizing the total perimeter score to measure convenience, the LSA would have Iowans believe that the convenience of an individual district can be determined not only by traveling around it, but by traveling around all districts in a plan. But people do not travel around districts (let alone all districts), they travel through districts. A prospective home owner would not judge the convenience of a home by walking around the property, so why would the convenience of a congressional district be judged in such a way? Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the LSA has adopted an erroneous interpretation of the convenience standard under Chapter 42.4(3) of the Iowa Code, and the LSA has adopted an erroneous metric by which to judge its erroneous interpretation. It is recommended, therefore, that the Iowa legislature instruct the LSA on the proper meaning of the convenience standard and insist upon the faithful application of the law as written. E. The Legislative Services Agency has adopted other erroneous legal interpretations of state and federal law. In 1981, the LSA asserted that, “[w]hile population equality is the overriding and highest standard considered in congressional plans, the remaining standards of Chapter 42 cannot be completely ignored in establishing congressional districts.” This legal interpretation rests on the erroneous assumption, however, that the Iowa legislature – the democratic body that is constitutionally empowered to determine the standards which the LSA is required to apply – has prioritized population equality above other redistricting standards. This is simply incorrect. Chapter 42.4 of the Iowa Code makes no distinction between the relative importance of redistricting standards. Just as the statute states that congressional districts “shall each have a population as nearly equal as practicable to the ideal district population,” it similarly states that congressional districts “shall be composed of convenient contiguous territory” and “shall be reasonably compact.” The arguable exception to this involves the compactness standard which, unlike other statutory standards, is accompanied by a clause that states it should be “consistent” with other standards. But to be ‘consistent’ is different from being ‘subordinate.’ And if any standards were found to take priority, it would be more logical to conclude that they would be the contiguousness and whole county standards because they were established not by mere statute, but they are enshrined in the Iowa Constitution. In its second report of 2001, the LSA also concluded that “the requirements of the United States Constitution mandate that a second proposed Congressional redistricting plan must have equal or lower population deviations than the first plan submitted.” But the LSA provided no legal citation to justify this legal conclusion and it is, in fact, contrary to the holdings of the U.S. Supreme Court. In short, the U.S. Supreme Court has never held that subsequent plans must contain lower population deviations and, to the contrary, it has acknowledged that congressional redistricting plans can contain avoidable population deviations if the state proves that the avoidable variances “were necessary to achieve some legitimate state objective.” The state of Iowa has codified several state objectives that could legitimately justify avoidable population variances, including contiguousness, whole counties, convenience, and compactness. These erroneous legal interpretations are relevant to the current plan under consideration because they are, or could, impact not only the remainder of the 2011 congressional redistricting process, but future redistricting processes. It is imperative that the LSA exercise its limited authority in a manner that is consistent with the laws democratically adopted by Iowa’s elected representatives and it is the legal obligation of the LSA to properly account for the legitimate objectives of the state of Iowa in formulating congressional redistricting plans. It is recommended, therefore, that the Iowa legislature instruct the LSA to apply the congressional redistricting standards as adopted by Iowa’s elected officials and correct the LSA’s prior misinterpretations of state and federal law. III. RECOMMENDATIONS A. The Iowa legislature should reject the first congressional redistricting plan in favor of a plan that will foster greater public confidence in Iowa’s congressional redistricting process and a greater sense of fairness and equity in Iowa’s federal representation. B. The Iowa legislature should provide more effective oversight of the LSA regarding the consistent application of congressional redistricting standards. C. The Iowa legislature should instruct the LSA to analyze each redistricting standard set forth in Iowa law and to provide sufficient information by which the legislature and the general public can evaluate the application of such standards. D. The Iowa legislature should instruct the LSA on the proper meaning of the convenience standard and insist upon the faithful application of the standard as written. E. The Iowa legislature should instruct the LSA to apply the congressional redistricting standards as adopted by Iowa’s elected officials and correct the LSA’s prior misinterpretations of state and federal law. F. The citizens of Iowa should insist that the Iowa legislature approve a congressional redistricting plan that adheres to Iowa law, and they should begin to explore alternative options if the legislature fails to do so. APPENDIX 1. GLOSSARY [Omitted] APPENDIX 2. HISTORICAL STATISTICS [Omitted]
2011-04-06 I oppose the plan in that the population headcount used to formulate the plan was taken from the Census Bureau data which showed no distinction for illegal aliens versus legal citizenship. Therefore, the numbers are skewed and not representative of the bona fide citizenry the plan purports to be focused upon. Also, I am against combining Polk with Pottawattamie Counties, as we have had that situation in the past and Pottawattamie County lost its identity and was not adequately and fairly represented. There is a vast difference in political ideology between the two counties and they need to remain distinct and separate.
2011-04-06 I think you should try this again. Why split Pottawattamie County and put our representative so far away? I think there could be a better plan than that.
2011-04-06 My husband and I feel that we, here in Southwest Iowa, do not have much in common with Polk County. Therefore, Pottawattamie County and surrounding counties here would have little representation.
2011-04-06 Council Bluffs should remain part of Congressman Steve King's district.
2011-04-03 I am glad about how the maps were drawn and hope that they are adapted. The congressional maps have very little population variance, which is ideal. Thanks for the hard work and the non-partisan way that we go about redistricting. I hope that the Legislature and the Governor approve these maps.
2011-04-01 It looks to me like the commission did a good job of redistricting the state. I hope that our legislators and governor move quickly to adopt these sensibly drawn districts. I'm happy to live in a state with a sensible, non-partisan approach to this challenge. My thanks to the committee and everyone that supported them in this effort.
2011-04-01 I have read the first maps and feel that in the parts of the state I understand near me, they are fair and should be adopted as is.
2011-03-31 I like this, I feel like it does an adequate job dividing the state based on population while keeping districts as compact as possible.
2011-03-31 As an academic exercise, I wrote several redistricting plans and I am elated that one of the six I wrote is so similar to the one proposed. And to come up with such minor variations in populations is evidence of the hard work done by the LSA. I applaud your work and thank you for what I hope the legislators find a workable plan.
2011-03-31 I am happy with Map 1 except for the Congressional District to which Cerro Gordo County is assigned. I think that Congressional District 2 would align Cerro Gordo with traditional mail and travel links.