Arizona’s Commission on Appellate Court Appointments solicits and reviews applications from the public and nominates finalists to serve on the Independent Restricting Commission. This is because each decade IRC goes out of business when its work is done.

Compactness describes the relative geographic dispersion of a district. There is no particular ideal of geographic compactness.

Contiguous means tracts of territory in contact with one another.

Grid maps are the constitutionally mandated starting point in Arizona’s redistricting process. This is to ensure that each Independent Redistricting Commission starts from scratch rather than simply modifying existing districts. Grid maps reflect only two of the six criteria the commissioners are required to consider: equal population and compactness/contiguousness.

Proposition 106, enacted by Arizona voters in 2000, created the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and established a process and criteria for drawing new district lines.

Reapportionment is the process of allocating congressional districts among the states based upon changes in population. Because of population growth over the last decade, Arizona was allocated an additional congressional district after the 2010 census, going from eight to nine districts.

Redistricting is the redrawing of legislative and congressional district lines following the decennial U.S. census. The lines are redrawn so that districts are of very nearly equal population as required by the Arizona and U.S. constitutions.

Six criteria guide the drawing of districts. They are:

  1. Equal population;
  2. Compactness and contiguousness;
  3. Compliance with the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act;
  4. Respect for communities of interest;
  5. Incorporation of visible geographic features, including city, town and county boundaries, as well as undivided census tracts; and
  6. Creation of competitive districts where there is no significant detriment to other goals.

The Voting Rights Act, adopted initially in 1965 and extended in 1970, 1975 and 1982, codifies and ensures the 15th Amendment's permanent guarantee that, throughout the nation, no person shall be denied the right to vote on account of race or color. In addition, the act contains several special provisions that impose even more stringent requirements in certain jurisdictions throughout the country. Because Arizona is one of those jurisdictions, its congressional and legislative districts must receive preclearance or approval from the Department of Justice or a federal court under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act before they can take effect. To get preclearance, Arizona must demonstrate that the new districts do not discriminate against minority voters in purpose or effect, which means there can be no intentional or accidental discrimination. Under Section 5, Arizona's redistricting plans cannot be retrogressive. The plans cannot weaken or reduce minority voters' rights. The presence of discrimination can be determined by analyzing population data and election results.

What If” maps represent hypothetical scenarios that commissioners have asked the mapping consultants to explore. (For instance, start with the premise of a Colorado River congressional district and see how the map plays out.) A “What If” map is not a version of any official map being drawn by the commissioners. “What If” maps merely provide insight to the commissioners as they consider how to turn the initial grid map into an actual draft map to show the public


2001 Commission Definitions

The Independent Redistricting Commission adopted the following definitions:

Competitive means that either party or other parties would have an opportunity to prevail in an election. A district shall be deemed competitive if the difference in the JudgeIt scores between the two major parties in that district is seven percent or less.

To the extent practicable contemplates the need for flexibility in carrying out an enormous task that necessarily involves many compromises and difficult choices and expresses a recognition that the actor will be required to reconcile competing considerations, interests or goals.

Significant Detriment is any damage, injury, harm or impairment of a redistricting criterion which the IRC determines, based on the record before it, to be material and substantial, but not which the IRC determines to be minimal or inconsequential.

Equal Population means precise equality plus or minus one person.

Significant detriment to equal population is anything more than the minimum deviation from equal population necessary to achieve the goal of competitiveness but in no event greater than 1.75 percent in any district.

Compliance with the Voting Rights Act means full compliance with all applicable provisions thereof, to the extent consistent with the order of the court.

community of interest is a group of people in a defined geographic area with concerns about common issues (such as religion, political ties, history, tradition, geography, demography, ethnicity, culture, social economic status, trade or other common interest) that would benefit from common representation.

With respect to communities of interest, significant detriment means (a) significant detriment to the ability of that community to have effective representation, or (b) deprivation of a material or substantial, but not a minimal or inconsequential, portion of that community of effective representation.

Compactness describes the relative geographic dispersion of a district. There is no particular ideal of geographic compactness. Compactness shall be measured using the Polsby-Popper Test.

Significant detriment to compactness occurs when a district is below a Polsby-Popper score of 0.17.

Contiguous means tracts of territory in actual physical contact with one another.

Significant detriment to contiguity exists when tracts of territory are not in physical contact.