In New Hampshire, the state legislature draws congressional and state legislative districts through the normal legislative process, subject to a gubernatorial veto. The 2021 redrawing process extended into late 2022 with Governor Chris Sununu vetoing two rounds of partisan- drawn maps before a special master, appointed by the state Supreme Court, stepped in to draw a final map. In one map, vetoed by the governor, the state legislature attempted to pair two Democratic incumbents into Congressional District
Community of Interest Story
There were some wins made at the House level that kept whole communities together despite legislative threats to split these areas. Additionally, maps did well in preventing small townships from being lumped together. Several House committee members made specific comments about the community of interest (COI) maps submitted by the redistricting coalition. On the senate and congressional side, all COI mapping failed entirely due to partisan differences.
Overall State Grade: C
Improvements from 2011: The legislative committee held the required one hearing per county, had a website for hearings and public information, and held all meetings in handicap accessible locations. The committee utilized Zoom as a virtual viewing option but did not allow for any testimony over the platform. The committee allowed written testimony.
Lack of legislative accountability: Despite improvements to the process compared to the previous cycle, partisan gerrymandering by Republican legislators was so blatant that Governor Sununu, also a Republican, vetoed the congressional map. As a result of this stalemate, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ordered a redraw of the map by a special master. Advocates filed a lawsuit challenging state legislative districts as an illegal partisan gerrymander. An in-state report found that “While only one-third of New Hampshire residents have seen the legislative redistricting maps proposed by the State Legislature, nearly all Democrats and Independents who have seen them consider them to be unfair, while even Republicans are closely divided.”52 The public testified and presented maps which were largely ignored in favor of partisan drawn maps. The New Hampshire redistricting coalition lobbied legislators to vote against the partisan maps and incorporate public testimony. Further, once the final maps were released the committee held public hearings during the day despite calls from organizations asking for more options.
Public engagement increased this cycle: The Fair Maps coalition successfully engaged the public throughout the redistricting process. The coalition held a statewide Mapathon event which garnered members of the public from every county in the state and produced over ten COI maps.
- An independent redistricting commission should be established: Although the redistricting process in New Hampshire improved during 2021, advocates stress that an independent redistricting commission is still needed to avoid partisan gerrymandering moving forward.
- Organizations must be bold in advocacy efforts: In previous cycles, organizations often sat on the sidelines in hopes that their presence would reduce partisan gerrymandering. In 2021, the Fair Maps coalition spent a large portion of time on public outreach and education on the state redistricting process and how the public could affect change. As one advocate expressed, “we got in the faces of legislators about the need for fair maps”.
- There should be an increase in national organizing coordination: The New Hampshire redistricting coalition was small in 2021 and looked to national organizations for resources and support. National resources to the state were delayed and the coalition would like to see earlier communication to find out what resources are needed in a state and create an appropriate timeline for support.