Cover of LEO Guide to RedistrictingLocal Election Officials' Guide to Redistricting (Full PDF Version)

Redistricting applies to all levels of government where district elections are held, although not all jurisdictions will be subject to or require new boundaries to be redrawn. Although election officials share basic responsibilities for updating newly redrawn political districts in their records, there are variations among the size of their offices, technical abilities, budgets, and the resources available to update and audit precinct and district boundaries. In addition, because redistricting usually only occurs once every 10 years, it is possible the officials responsible for managing redistricting have only overseen the process one or fewer times.  The purpose of this document is to provide general guidance to assist election officials when making technical changes to precinct and district information in election systems.  

For election officials to certify every vote is counted correctly, they must first make certain that every voter receives the correct ballot. This is a complicated procedure of analyzing voter addresses, and then determining which addresses are located within a voting district. Federal, state, local, and district boundaries rarely coincide with each other and often have overlapping dividing lines. Boundary lines are defined in a variety of ways including metes and bounds, voting precincts, census blocks, public maps, and other methods.

Prior to the advent of computer databases, election officials kept track of which voters resided in which districts using a combination of paper maps, lists of addresses, and paper records of voter registration information. Today, many election officials use computerized election management systems (EMS), geographic information systems (GIS), electronic voter registration systems, and other technology tools to help maintain voter and associated district boundary information. Although technology has allowed election officials to refine the accuracy of voting data, the process of redistricting still requires meticulous data entry and careful manual oversight.

Many jurisdictions will solicit public input when drafting new political boundaries. Gathering public comments can be a function assigned to local election officials in some jurisdictions. This document also provides a broad overview of items to consider when planning public hearings during the redistricting process.

Local Election Officials' Guide to Redistricting (Full PDF Version)