Alternative Population Base--A population count other than the official census data that is used for redistricting.

Apportionment--The process of assigning the number of members of Congress that each state may elect following each census.

At-large--When one or several candidates run for an office, and they are elected by the whole area of a local political subdivision, they are being elected at-large.

Census--Enumeration of the population as mandated by the United States Constitution.

Census blocks, Census tract--Geographic areas recommended by the states and used by the Census Bureau for the collection and presentation of data.

Commission--A statutory or constitutional body charged with researching or implementing policy. Redistricting commissions have been used to draw districts for legislatures and Congress.

Communities of interest--Geographical areas, such as neighborhoods of a city or regions of a state, where the residents have common political interests that do not necessarily coincide with the boundaries of a political subdivision, such as a city or county.

Compactness--Having the minimum distance between all the parts of a constituency (a circle or a hexagon is the most compact district).

Contiguity--All parts of a district being connected at some point with the rest of the district.

Cracking--A term used when the electoral strength of a particular group is divided by a redistricting plan.

District--The boundaries that define the constituency of an elected official.

Gerrymander--The drawing of districts intentionally to advantage one group or party over another.

Homogenous district--a voting district with at least 90 percent minority or White population.

Ideal population--The result of the total state population divided by the number of seats in a legislative body.

Majority-minority districts--Term used by the courts for seats where an ethnic minority constitutes a majority of the population.

Multimember district--A district that elects two or more members to a legislative body.

Metes and bounds--A detailed description of district boundaries using specific geographic features.

Natural boundaries--District boundaries that are natural geographic features.

One person, one vote--Constitutional standard established by the Supreme Court that all legislative districts should be approximately equal in population.

Overall range--The difference in population between the largest and smallest districts in a districting plan.

Packing--A term used when one group is consolidated into a small number of districts, thus reducing their electoral influence in surrounding districts.

Partisan gerrymandering--The deliberate drawing of district boundaries secure an advantage for one political party.

PL 94-171--The federal law requiring the U. S. Census Bureau to provide the states with data for use in redistricting as well as mandating the program where the states define the blocks for collecting data.

Plurality-- A winning total in an election involving more than two candidates, where the winner received less than a majority of the votes cast.

Racial Gerrymandering--The deliberate drawing of district boundaries to secure an advantage for one race.

Reapportionment--The allocation of seats in a legislative body (such as Congress) among established districts (such as states), where the district boundaries do not change but the number of members per district does.

Redistricting--The drawing of new political district boundaries.

Sampling--Technique or method that measures part of a population to determine the full number.

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act--Part of the federal law that protects racial and language minorities from discrimination by a state, or other political subdivision, in voting practices.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act--Part of the federal law that requires certain states and localities to preclear all election law changes with the U.S. Department of Justice or the federal district court for the District of Columbia before those laws take effect.

Single-member district--District electing only one representative.

Standard deviation--A statistical formula measuring variance from a norm.

Tabulation--The totaling and reporting of the census data.

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This page is maintained by the Redistricting Task Force for the National Conference of State Legislatures
Update: 2/21/99 (psw)