Every ten years, Rhode Island redraws its federal, state, and local legislative district maps. This process is meant to ensure that as populations grow and change, every Rhode Island voter can have equal representation and equal voice in government.
We’re fighting for fair, transparent, and equitable redistricting at every level — advocating for legislation like the Freedom to Vote Act to help end partisan gerrymandering, bringing Rhode Island residents to testify at public hearings, and telling our mapmakers the story of communities across Rhode Island.
Redistricting in Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, redistricting is controlled by the state legislature. When partisan politicians control the mapmaking process, we’re especially vulnerable to gerrymandering — which is why it’s so important we push our lawmakers to be transparent and consider public testimony every step of the way.
Districts must comply with the provisions of the US Constitution and Voting Rights Act and keep districts reasonably equal in population. In addition, mapmakers must prioritize:
- Keeping communities of interest and political subdivisions whole.
- Maximizing the number of politically competitive districts
Districts may not be drawn:
- To protect one or more incumbents, declared candidates, or political party.
- With intent or effect of denial/abridgement of voting rights or vote dilution because of race or membership in language minority group.
Why Redistricting Matters for Rhode Island
When done fairly, redistricting is a chance for political power to be equitably distributed across different communities, making sure everyone has a seat at the table.
Unfortunately, redistricting has historically been conducted behind closed doors with little to no public input, meaning they don’t have an accurate picture of what our communities look like.
Even worse, when politicians have the power to draw electoral maps, they manipulate district lines to divide or pack together certain populations, keeping themselves and their party in power. It’s called gerrymandering – and it’s a major threat to our democracy.
Key Dates For Rhode Island 2021 Redistricting
Hearings are held across Rhode Island. When the legislature receives the federal Census data, they use that and public input to create draft maps. Once these draft maps are released, they hold hearings to get public feedback and revise the maps, before sending a finalized version to the Governor’s desk, who can veto or approve.
Rhode Island Redistricting Resources
Use these resources to learn more about how you can get involved in fighting for fair districts and stopping gerrymandering in Rhode Island.