When the US Census occurs each decade, the population size determines representation at the federal level and where representational boundaries are placed due to population density. On the federal side, if a state gains or loses a Congressional seat, this is known as reapportionment. As a result of the 2020 Census, Arkansas did not gain or lose congressional representation. The chart below from the US Census Bureau shows the states who gained and lost congressional seats.
Since Arkansas did not lose or gain any congressional seats, population density determines how congressional districts will be redrawn by the Arkansas State Legislature. State and local districts will shift as well. This is called redistricting.
Redistricting is a teachable moment for civics classrooms and an opportunity for students to engage in current and societal issue discussions and simulations of democratic processes as it relates to the Arkansas Academic Standards.
This Redistricting Toolkit provides Arkansas classrooms with free resources to address essential questions related to federalism, power, representation, justice, and equality.
- Gerrymandering, or how drawing irregular lines can impact an election from PBS News Hour Extra provides a succinct overview of the topic.
- Reapportionment & Redistricting WebQuest from iCivics has students explore the ins and outs of apportionment including what it is, how often it’s adjusted, and how districts are redrawn. Students also take a look at gerrymandering and its impacts.
- Redistricting and Gerrymandering from KQED is a lesson plan that explores the questions: How do redistricting and gerrymandering work? Does gerrymandering silence voters? Who should decide how legislative districts are drawn?
- New Hampshire Public Radio has a Civics 101 Podcast Episode on Gerrymandering.
- Reapportionment from the U.S. Census Bureau has Students learn about the decennial census and its impact on their communities. Using past data, students predict population changes from the 2010 Census to 2020. Then students will reallocate seats in the U.S. House of Representatives based on the predicted changes.
- One Person, One Vote: Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims from Annenberg Classroom is a documentary, where Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen G. Breyer and other experts discuss how the principle of one person, one vote emerged from a series of landmark decisions in the 1960s.
- Civics In Real Life- Gerrymandering from the Florida Joint Center on Citizenship is a one-pager full of links to support deeper inquiry.
- America’s Most Gerrymandered Districts from the Washington Post provides a “straightforward run-down of where the most- and least-gerrymandered districts are.”
- Princeton Gerrymander Project does nonpartisan analysis to understand and eliminate partisan gerrymandering at a state-by-state level.
- Redistricting Tracker from Five Thirty-Eight highlights what redistricting looks like in every state and provides an updating tracker of proposed congressional maps — and whether they might benefit Democrats or Republicans in the 2022 midterms and beyond.
- Redistricting and Gerrymandering from Street Law has students learn how state legislatures and governors can manipulate the redistricting process to gain an advantage for their party in the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures. Students will learn what constitutes gerrymandering and the typical types of gerrymandering used. Students will role-play state legislators and collaborate to draw both gerrymandered and not gerrymandered districts. Students will consider the foundational redistricting case Baker v. Carr (1962) and classify arguments made in the case. In addition, students will evaluate the proper role of the Supreme Court in state redistricting cases.
- GerryMander is a simple puzzle game from GameTheory.com designed to show how gerrymandering can be used to rig an election. In GerryMander, students draw voting districts to favor a party and win the election. Players can use real-world strategies like packing and cracking to beat each puzzle. With these strategies, players can see how Gerrymandering works while learning about how it happens in the real world.
- Representable is a free, open-source tool for creating maps for Communities of Interest (COI) — groups of individuals who share common social and economic interests, who are likely to have similar political concerns. Currently, over half of the states have legal requirements to respect COIs, but before Representable, no tools existed to get COIs to mapmakers.
- Gerrymander Exercise by Peter Pappas has students use paper and pencil to gerrymander districts on a given map.
- The Gerrymander Jigsaw Puzzle from Slate has participants but states back together again using congressional districts.
Many thanks to Illinois Civics for their generosity in contributing resources and ideas to this list.