The Redistricting Process Begins
Kansas is currently redrawing our borders for Congressional and legislative districts. We all have a role to play to ensure fair maps represent the interests and communities of Kansans, not the political interest of legislators.
Redistricting is essential and will impact our state for the next decade. However, if this process is mishandled, it will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Kansans and undermine their faith in those who will be elected to represent them. A stable and healthy democracy depends on an engaged electorate who is encouraged to participate and have a hand in shaping their future and it benefits all Kansans to be attentive to the needs of the Communities of Interest in the state.
The Kansas House & Senate Redistricting Committees are holding 14 public town hall meetings across the state, starting on Monday.
YOU have a critical role to play in the Kansas redistricting process: participating in official Redistricting Town Halls, submitting testimony, and getting your friends and family involved (hopefully all three)!
To make it as easy as possible for you to speak up for fair maps in Kansas, the LWV of Kansas is working with other organizations through the KS Fair Maps coalition to provide a resource toolkit.
On Friday, August 6, the coalition hosted a highly informative webinar to demystify redistricting, get specific about submitting testimony, and get us ready to advocate for accountable government that represents Kansans — NOT partisan politics. Watch the recording. Speakers included representatives of the LWV of Kansas, ACLU of Kansas, Kansas Civic Engagement Table, Mainstream Coalition & The Voter Network. Download the slides and the Q&A.
KS Fair Maps has a testimony form to make it easier to get your voice heard even if you cannot attend one of the 14 Redistricting Town Halls. (We strongly encourage you to watch the recording of the August 6 webinar for the complete explanation of what makes for an effective testimony.)
Kansas lawmakers are holding these meetings across the state to gather opinions on how the Legislature should redraw political boundaries in 2022. See the schedule below. In Wichita, the meeting is Wednesday, Aug. 11, at WSU’s Hughes Metroplex, starting at 1:30 p.m.
All of us need to do our best to attend these meetings to ensure the Redistricting Committee knows we are watching and we expect fair redistricting and a transparent, accessible redistricting process. Fair maps are imperative to a true representative democracy.
Lawmakers in both parties expect Johnson County, the state’s most populous county, to pick up seats in the Legislature and western and southeast Kansas to lose them. They’re also expecting a contentious debate over redrawing the state’s four congressional districts.
The Kansas House & Senate Redistricting Committees Town Hall Meeting Schedule
MONDAY, Aug. 9
- Manhattan — 9 to 10:15 a.m., Kansas State University Student Union Ballroom, 2nd Floor, 918 N Martin Luther King Blvd.
- Salina — 1:30 to 2:45 p.m., Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus College Center, Conference Room, 2310 Centennial Rd.
- Hays — 6 to 7:15 p.m., Fort Hays State University Memorial Union, Room 212, 600 Park St.
TUESDAY, Aug. 10
- Colby — 9 to 10:15 a.m., Colby Community College Cultural Arts Center, 1255 S Range Ave.
- Garden City — 1:30 to 2:45 p.m., Garden City Community College Tedrow Student Center, Endowment Room, 801 Campus Dr.
- Dodge City — 6 to 7:15 p.m., Dodge City Public Library, Lois Flanagan Room, 1001 N 2nd Ave.
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 11
- Hutchinson — 9 to 10:15 a.m., Hutchinson Community College Stringer Fine Arts Center, Warner Recital Hall, 600 E 11th Ave.
- Wichita — 1:30 to 2:45 p.m., Wichita State University Hughes Metroplex, 5015 East 29th St.
- Chanute — 6 to 7:15 p.m., Neosho County Community College, Room 209, Student Union, 800 W 14th St.
THURSDAY, Aug. 12
- Pittsburg — 9 to 10:15 a.m., Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium, 503 N Pine St.
- Overland Park — 1:45 to 3 p.m., Matt Ross Community Center, 8101 Marty St.
- Kansas City – 6 to 7:15 p.m., Kansas City Kansas Community College, Upper Level, Jewell Hall, 7250 State Ave.
FRIDAY, Aug. 13
- Leavenworth — 9 to 10:15 a.m., Riverfront Community Center, Riverview Room, 123 Esplanade St.
- Lawrence — 1:30 to 2:45 p.m., University of Kansas School of Business, 1654 Naismith Dr.
Livestreams are available for these meetings. However they are NOT being streamed on interactive platforms, so your presence will not have the same effect as attending the meetings in person. Also, oral testimony may be delivered only in person. However, if you cannot attend the meetings but want to stay informed, you can watch on YouTube or listen on Harmony (audio only).
The U.S. Census Bureau announced on Friday that the population data needed for legislative redistricting will not be released until Sept. 30 — six months after that data is typically made available. That’s problematic for states with strict 2021 deadlines to finish the once-every-10-years process, but Kansas isn’t one of them. According to our state constitution, redistricting is to be completed in the second year after the federal census, which would be 2022.
Kansas’ four United States representatives and 165 state legislators are all elected from political divisions called districts. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the US census. Federal law stipulates that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity. The League of Women Voters opposes partisan and racial gerrymandering that strips rights away from voters.
Following the 2010 census, Kansas neither gained nor lost congressional seats. However the legislature was unable to come to an agreement on a new district map, so the US District Court drew our congressional and state legislative district lines, and new maps were approved in June 2012.
Redistricting authorities in Kansas have not released a projected timeline for the 2020 redistricting cycle, but the committee has been appointed: bit.ly/KSLEGredistricting
- Chris Croft of Overland Park (chair)
- Brad Ralph of Dodge City (vice chair)
- Tom Burroughs of Kansas City (ranking minority member)
- Barbara Ballard of Lawrence
- John Barker of Abilene
- Stephanie Clayton of Overland Park
- Charlotte Esau of Olathe
- Kyle Hoffman of Coldwater
- Nick Hoheisel of Wichita
- Steve Huebert of Valley Center
- Jim Kelly of Independence
- Brenda Landwehr of Wichita
- Vic Miller of Topeka
- Fred Patton of Topeka
- Jason Probst of Hutchinson
- Adam Smith of Weskan
- Bill Sutton of Gardner
The National Conference of State Legislatures suggests five strategies that could be used if a state is struggling to meet their redistricting deadline.
Reconsideration of the Wichita’s city council district boundaries will take place in 2022 as well. Redistricting requires new districts to be adjusted so that the population of each district is within five percent of the average district size stated in the most recent census data.
In 2012, the process for reviewing district boundaries began in July. The Wichita City Council appointed a Commission of Electors with representatives from all six districts plus an appointee of the mayor. The deadline for ending the process is Dec. 31, however in 2012 it was completed before the end of November. The boundaries of Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 were shifted in an attempt to balance the district populations.
The redistricting of Sedgwick County Commission boundaries ten years ago was in full swing by July 2011. While some work could start that early, the delay in the release of census data will likely alter the usual timeline. We’ll be looking for more information to share as soon as we have it.
The League of Women Voters promotes transparent and accountable redistricting processes and to end hyper-partisan practices that don’t benefit constituents. Read more.
If you would like to join our efforts, you can become a League member and note on your application how you’d like to participate.