Redistricting - Issue Summary

Are New Hampshire's redrawn electoral districts fair?


redistrictingBy: LFDA Editor

New Hampshire, like all other states, must redraw its electoral districts every 10 years, making adjustment as dictated by the population and demographic shifts tabulated in the U.S. Census. In additon to districts for U.S. House, districts and wards for the New Hampshire House, Senate, and Governor's Executive Council were redrawn by the Legislature in 2012.

There wasn't any disagreement on the congressional districts.  The 1st Congressional District includes the area along the Maine border and into the Seacoast region. The 2nd CD encompasses the southwestern part of the state and runs up along the Vermont border and into the North Country.

But, especially for the reapportionment of state House seats, there was significant disagreement.

The terms of a 2006 ballot initiative stated: "When the population of any town or ward, according to the last federal census, is within a reasonable deviation from the ideal population for one or more representative seats, the town or ward shall have its own district of one or more representative seats."

The Republican-controlled Legislature came up with plans for the state House, Senate and Executive Council. While the Senate and Executive Council met with everyone's approval, including the governor's, the House plan met some headwinds.

In January 2012, the House voted 205-86 to approve HB 592, the Republican leadership's plan for its new districts; it was approved by the Senate.

But Democratic Gov. John Lynch, while signing off on the other plans, vetoed the House redistricting plan, saying it disenfranchised communities that should have received their own House reps. The House and Senate Republican majorities were enough to override the veto.

Opposition didn't stop there. Several groups, including some cities and towns, challenged the House redistricting plan in court for many of the same reasons cited by Lynch in his veto message. The cases were consolidated and fast-tracked to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

The high court on June 19, 2012 ruled unanimously that the House plan did not violate the constitution.  The ruling said it is the Legislature’s decision.

“The legislature had a choice to make: adhere to the 10 percent rule and give fewer towns, wards and places their own districts or exceed the 10 percent rule and give more towns, wards and places their own districts. This is a policy decision reserved to the Legislature,” the Justices wrote.

Redistricting, in general, has a history of becoming very political, with the party in power redrawing lines in their favor. That is where the term "gerrymandering" comes from.

2014 Legislation

Sen. David Pierce (D-Etna) is sponsoring SB 314, a 2014 bill establishing an independent commission to recommend a redistricting plan every 10 years.  Currently the Legislature drafts its own redistricting bills. It was sent to a study committee for further review.

Rep. Charlene Takesian (R-Pelham) is sponsoring HB 1347, a 2014 bill which establishes a committee to determine if the most recent redistricting complies with the New Hampshire constitution, and to recommend any remedies to the legislature. It was ruled inexpedient to legislate in the House.

Do you think the redistricting in New Hampshire was too politicized? Is your community one that  benefited -- or, in your view, suffered -- as a result of the districts?


Show More
Pop Up
Redistricting Member Posts
Take Action

If you are interested in redistricting and want to take action here are some choices:

  • If you are new to contacting your government, please visit our page on  How to Take Action.
  • Contact one of the organizations listed in Learn More. These groups represent the pro or con positions of issues.
  • Contact a government official as follows:

1. Contact members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives or the New Hampshire Senate.

2. Contact the Committee chairperson or members of the House Special Committee on Redistricting or the Senate Internal Affairs Committee – these are the committees that oversee this issue.

3. Give your opinion to Governor Maggie Hassan

Show More
Pop Up

Join the Discussion on Facebook

Learn More/Take Action

How do you think New Hampshire should draw its electoral districts? Whatever your thoughts are, we urge you to make your voice heard. See the "Learn More/Take Action" section on this page for more information.

Issue Status

In January 2012, the House voted 205-86 to approve Republican leaders' Representative redistricting plan. In a 19-4 vote, the Senate in February 2012 approved a plan to redraw the boundaries of the 24 Senate districts. In March 2012 the Legislature successfully overrode then-Gov. Lynch's veto of the Representative redistricting plan.  The NH Supreme Court upheld the Representative redistricting plan.

Sen. David Pierce (D-Etna) is sponsoring SB 314, a 2014 bill establishing an independent commission to recommend a redistricting plan every 10 years.  Currently the Legislature drafts its own redistricting bills. It was sent to a study committee for further review.

Rep. Charlene Takesian (R-Pelham) is sponsoring HB 1347, a 2014 bill which establishes a committee to determine if the most recent redistricting complies with the New Hampshire constitution, and to recommend any remedies to the legislature. It was ruled inexpedient to legislate in the House.

News

There are no 2014 articles on this topic.

June 20, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Supreme Court upholds House redistricting plan
WMUR: Court: Redistricting plan doesn't violate constitution
June 12, 2012
Concord Monitor: Redistricting claims Executive Councilor St. Hilaire
June 8, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Redistricting could cost Nashua one representative, scramble other offices
June 7, 2012
Concord Monitor: Redistricting case has its day
June 6, 2012
WMUR: Court to hear challenges to NH redistricting plan
June 5, 2012
Union Leader: State's legislative redistricting plan clears federal review hurdle
May 31, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Republicans reach deals on income tax ban, welfare fraud, redistricting proposals
May 25, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: Dover files 'friend of court' brief to join lawsuit over redistricting
May 23, 2012
Concord Monitor: High court declines filing delay in redistricting case
April 28, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: Court hearing set over NH House redistricting plan
March 29, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Senate overrides Lynch veto on House redistricting plan, making it law
WMUR: Sparks fly at Statehouse over redistricting
February 10, 2012
Blue Hampshire: Under the radar: Executive Council redistricting plan raises eyebrows
February 2, 2012
Union Leader: State Senate approves redistricting plan
January 19, 2012
Union Leader: House OKs redistricting plan that nearly doubles districts
January 17, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: NH House GOP redistricting plan up for vote
January 11, 2012
NHPR: State Unveils Redistricting Plan