Frequently Asked Questions

Redistricting Logo 2012


The following also is provided in Spanish.  Lo siguiente también es provisto en español.

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Why is the city redrawing council district boundaries?
The City Charter requires us to reevaluate and redraw council district boundaries at least every ten years following the results of the federal census.

What is redistricting?
Redistricting is a process in which Census population data is used to redraw the boundaries of electoral districts to make them approximately equal in population.  In the city's case, the electoral districts are Phoenix City Council Districts.  

Why do districts have to be equal in population?
Each person's vote in electing a Council member should have the same weight, or strength, as that of any other person.  This requirement evolves from the U.S. Constitution.

Which district is the Mayor elected from?
Candidates for the position of Mayor run "at-large."  That means that registered voters throughout Phoenix -- in other words, from all eight Phoenix districts -- vote for Mayor.

How many districts are there?
Phoenix has eight City Council districts.  

Don't we get more districts because of our increase in population?
No, only the U.S. House of Representatives (Congress) ties the number of seats to changes in population, through a process called reapportionment.  The Phoenix City Charter sets the number of council districts, and a change to that number would require an election to amend the City Charter.  Before any new districts could be implemented, the city would have to conduct the redistricting process all over again.

Do all cities have to redistrict?
Every level of government that elects its officials from specific geographic areas within its jurisdiction is required to examine the size of its districts after the Census data is released.

Do the districts have to have exactly the same populations?
Not exactly the same, but the City’s goal is to draw district boundaries so each will contain approximately the same number of residents, with no more than a one percent variance between the smallest and largest districts.

It’s now 18 months since the Census was conducted.  Haven't the populations changed again?  
Yes.  However, for the purpose of redistricting we are required to use population data from the most recent federal Census.  Even if the city chooses to redistrict again in a couple of years, we still would have to use Census 2010 data.  There is just no other source of geographically detailed data about population, race and Hispanic origin that would be acceptable to the courts and to the U.S. Department of Justice, which administers the Voting Rights Act.

Why are districts equalized on the basis of total population, and not voting age population?
The law requires that districts be equalized on the basis of total population.  While children aren’t old enough to vote in City Council elections, they are entitled to representation by their district’s elected officials.  Moreover, during the next ten-year cycle some children residing in the district will attain voting age.

Are undocumented persons included in the equalization count?
Yes.  Districts are equalized on the basis of the total population counted by Census enumerators.  If undocumented persons mailed in their Census forms, or were interviewed by Census workers, they would be included in the total population count.   The 2010 Census questionnaire did not ask a question about citizenship.

What are considered minority groups?
In redistricting, we rely on the federal definitions of minority status.  Groups included in that definition include, African-Americans, Asians, American Indians, Hawaiians, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders.

Didn’t the Courts say that race cannot be considered when drawing new district boundaries?
No.  The latest U.S. Supreme Court decision held that race cannot be the predominant factor in making redistricting decisions.  However, it may be considered along with other redistricting principles, including compactness, contiguity and shared communities of interest.  Any changes made to balance total populations between districts must not adversely affect the ability of minority populations to elect candidates of their choice.

Who makes the final decision about the new district boundaries?
The City Council has the authority to adopt new districts.  However, the U.S. Department of Justice does have the authority, under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, to object to a plan, barring its use for future elections.

What happens if the Justice Department objects to Phoenix’s plan?
If the Justice Department objects to a plan, it is usually because the submitting jurisdiction has not sufficiently met its obligation to show that the new district shapes will not harm minority-voting strength.   The new districts cannot be used until the jurisdiction satisfies the Justice Department’s objections.  Until the objections are satisfied, the old districts remain in effect.

If I have an idea about how a district should be drawn, how can I be heard?
There are a number of ways to have meaningful input in this process.  You may attend one of several public meetings and submit your ideas verbally or in writing.  You may access the redistricting website at phoenix.gov/redistricting and utilize the online mapping application to submit a plan or you also may obtain a paper Redistricting Kit from the city to draw and submit map ideas.  Ideas can be sent via email to redistricting@phoenix.gov or you may call the city’s Redistricting Hotline at 602-256-4357.

How do I get more information?
Information about the redistricting process will be frequently updated on the website (phoenix.gov/redistricting).  Also included in this website is a glossary of redistricting terms, links to related sites, telephone numbers for some of the key city and consultant staff, and a Redistricting Kit you can download and use to submit your own ideas.  In addition, there also will be two rounds of public meetings held throughout the city.  Please check the schedule on this website or call the redistricting information number to obtain the dates and locations.

Last time the City redistricted, District 6 was in two pieces linked by four miles of road.  Could that happen again?
Yes.  The Justice Department precleared that shape 20 years ago and again 10 years ago, and a similar configuration could result again.  The Census 2010 population in the Ahwatukee-Foothills area is about half of what is needed for a council district, so that area will have to join with other neighborhoods to make up a whole district.

Why doesn’t the City have an independent redistricting commission?
The State Redistricting Commission has no authority over cities.  The City Charter specifies that the City Council is responsible for drawing district boundaries.

What if incumbents don’t live in their new districts?
The City Charter requires City Council candidates, including incumbents, to live in the districts in which they run for office.  An incumbent drawn into another district would have the choice of running in the new district or moving back into his or her old district.

Will school district boundaries be affected by the City’s redistricting process?
No.  However, because many school districts cover large areas of the city, it is quite possible that some school districts could be in two or more council districts.

Will the City split voting precincts?
The city will attempt to match as many County voting precinct lines as possible.