Iowans are getting their first glimpse of what the state’s congressional and legislative districts could look like for the next decade.
The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, which draws the state’s political maps, released its first set of proposed maps to lawmakers and to the public at 10 a.m.
The plans are now on the Iowa Legislature’s website for the public to view.
The districts — if approved — will shape the balance of political power in Iowa and determine which districts Iowans will vote in.
Here’s what we know:
Iowa House Democratic leader says she’ll be a yes vote on new maps
11:03: Iowa House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst says she’ll vote yes on the proposed legislative and congressional maps released Tuesday — the first legislative leader to say how they’ll vote on the proposals.
“The maps we received today were created following Iowa law, and were drawn by nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency experts,” she said in a statement. “That’s why I plan to vote yes on these maps, as they were presented to us today, when we convene for a special session on October 5.”
How would the voter breakdown change in the newly proposed congressional districts?
10:53: Iowa’s 1st and 3rd Congressional districts would have a higher percentage of Democratic voters under the new proposed set of maps, according to a Des Moines Register analysis of active voter data. The 2nd and 4th Congressional districts would have a higher percentage of Republicans.
The new proposed maps would not place any of Iowa’s current representatives into the same district. Republicans currently represent Iowa’s 1st, 2nd and 4th Congressional districts, while Democrat Cindy Axne represents Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.
Democrats would widen their active voter advantage in the 1st Congressional District, where 38.7% of active voters would be Democrats and 28.6% would be Republicans under the new map. That’s up from 35% Democratic and 32% Republican under the current congressional map.
The advantage would flip slightly in favor of Republicans in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, which would move from 35.5% Democratic and 32.7% Republican to 35% Republican and 32.8% Democratic.
In Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, Democrats would widen a slight active voter advantage, increasing from 35.5% to 36.3% while Republicans would decrease from 34.8% to 33.9%
Republicans would retain their solid advantage in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. Approximately 45.2% of active voters would be Republicans, up slightly from 44.2%. Democrats’ percentage would decrease from 25.6% to 24%.
All four districts would still have a large percentage of active voters not registered to a party, ranging from 28% to 32%.
Democrats previously had a slight active voter advantage in three of the Congressional districts: Iowa’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts.
The difference between the proposed congressional district with the most population (1st District – 797,655) and least population (2nd District – 797,556) is just 99 people. No proposed district deviates from the ideal population of 797,592 by more than 63 people.
Senate Democratic leader: Iowans should ‘make their voices heard’ at public hearings
10:52: Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls, of Coralville, released a statement following the release of the maps, urging Iowans to make their opinions known at next week’s public hearings. Republicans currently hold a 32-18 advantage in the Iowa Senate.
“We are currently reviewing Plan 1 to ensure it meets all the legal and constitutional requirements for redistricting,” he said in the statement. “We believe Iowans deserve a fair redistricting process, without interference from politicians, and without partisan amendments. We encourage Iowans to examine Plan 1 and to make their voices heard at three public hearings next week.”
A closer look at the new legislative maps:
10:32: The new proposed congressional and legislative maps are now online for the public to view.
You can view all three maps here.
A look at Iowa’s proposed congressional districts
10:18: Here are the new proposed boundaries for Iowa’s four congressional districts, and how they compare with the current boundary lines:
House Speaker Pat Grassley: We will review the maps thoroughly
10:17: Minutes after Iowa legislators received their first copy of the proposed congressional and redistricting maps House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, promised that Republicans, who hold majorities in the Iowa House and Senate, will “do our due diligence” and carefully review the proposal.
“Our nonpartisan redistricting process in Iowa is considered one of the fairest in the nation,” he said in a statement. “After months of delays, we now have a proposed set of maps for redistricting in front of the Iowa Legislature. We will do our due diligence and review it thoroughly to ensure it is a fair set of maps for the people of Iowa.”
The proposed maps are out. Here’s our first look at what they look like
10:15: LSA has released its first set of proposed maps for the public and Iowa lawmakers to view.
There are three maps: One for Iowa’s four congressional districts, a second for Iowa’s 100 state House districts and a third for Iowa’s 50 state Senate districts.
The state has not yet uploaded the maps its website. However, state Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, tweeted a photo of his physical copy of the maps Thursday morning:
Rep. Cindy Axne says she’s ‘anxious’ to see what maps look like
10 a.m.: U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, who’s still mulling her reelection options, said the new congressional maps have been part of the reason she has waited to decide.
Axne, of West Des Moines, currently represents Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. She said in August she has narrowed her plans to whether she would run for Congress again or for governor.
“Here’s one thing I want to see: I’ve seen already early on a possibility of pulling Dallas County out of our district,” she said during an interview with KMA radio that aired Thursday. “That makes zero sense. We have two communities that bridge between Polk County and Dallas County and those communities should have the same representation.”
Polk and Dallas counties are currently both in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. The first round of maps, released at 10 a.m. Thursday, continue to have both counties in the district.
“Well I can tell you that the maps have been part of my reasoning for sitting back a minute here to determine what I want to do and I’ll be anxious to see what they look like,” she said.
Three virtual public hearings are set for next week
Iowans will have three chances to weigh in on the proposed maps next week at a set of public hearings scheduled to be held virtually by the state’s Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission. Following the hearings, the group is tasked with creating a report summarizing the public comments to submit to the Iowa Legislature.
The hearings are:
- Monday, Sept. 20: 7-9:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Sept. 21: noon-3 p.m.
- Wednesday, Sept. 22: 6-8:30 p.m.
Lawmakers will meet at the Capitol Oct. 5 to vote on maps
Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday announced she was calling the Iowa Legislature back to the Capitol on Oct. 5 for a special session to complete the redistricting process.
Also on Tuesday, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an order saying it would give lawmakers until Dec. 1 to agree on the new maps, extending a Sept. 15 deadline.
How does Iowa’s redistricting process work?
Iowa’s redistricting process is widely considered a national model and has several safeguards intended to limit partisan influence over the map-drawing process.
The Iowa Constitution says districts must be both “compact” and “contiguous.” Iowa Code specifies that the compactness of a district is greatest when the length and width of the district are equal, giving it a square shape with the shortest possible perimeter.
Iowa law also says that congressional and legislative districts must coincide as much as possible with the boundaries of cities and other political subdivisions. A single county cannot be divided between two congressional districts, for example.
The Legislative Services Agency, which provides legal research, budget analysis, bill drafting and other services to the Iowa House and Senate, is tasked with drawing the maps and submitting them to the Legislature for approval.
The group plans to submit its first set of proposed maps to lawmakers and to the public at 10 a.m., Sept. 16. A bipartisan committee has scheduled three hearings, as required by law, so the public can weigh in on the proposals before legislators vote. This year, those meetings will be held virtually.
When lawmakers convene for a special session on Oct. 5, they’ll be able to consider the maps on only an up or down vote — no changes will be allowed.
If they vote the maps down, the agency has another 35 days to produce a new set of drawings. Lawmakers cannot amend the second set. If the second map fails, the agency technically has 35 days to create a third plan, which lawmakers could choose to change.
However, because the courts have instituted a new Dec. 1 deadline for final approval, it puts some time constraints on the agency and the Legislature. There are 57 total days between the start of the special session and the Dec. 1 deadline.
Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.