Redistricting in Washington DC

Starting September 2021, the Council of the District of Columbia will launch its once-in-a-decade redistricting process. Normally, decennial redistricting begins in April, but a five-month delay in the release of 2020 Census data has the process officially kicking off in September.

Chairman Phil Mendelson appointed a subcommittee to direct the Council's redistricting work, consisting of three at-large members: Elissa Silverman, who will chair the subcommittee, Anita Bonds, and Christina Henderson. Using data from the 2020 Census, the subcommittee will make recommendations to the full Council on redrawing ward boundaries to ensure balanced ward populations and representation in the legislature. The subcommittee, along with ward-specific task forces, will also make recommendations on redrawing Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) boundaries to meet similar balancing and fair representation goals.

On this page, you will find up-to-date information on the Council's redistricting process, including a Q&A that addresses many of the Frequently Asked Questions about redistricting. You can also find a timeline of expected redistricting milestones below.

Expected Timeline

  • August 12, 2021: Initial "legacy" Census data released (the 2020 Census data will first be released in a non-user friendly legacy format, a few weeks before the general data release. This data will be “cleaned up” by the District’s Office of Planning and will be made available through a user-friendly redistricting website in September.)
  • September 16, 2021: Official Census data released
  • September 17, 2021: Redistricting website launched, which will enable the public to use Census data to create their own recommendations on redrawing ward and ANC boundaries
  • September 29, 2021: First hearing on redistricting (more information and a link to sign-up here)
  • Late September through late October 2021: Subcommittee will hold eight hearings on ward redistricting, one specific to each ward
  • Mid-November 2021: Subcommittee mark-up of the ward redistricting bill (we are technically a subcommittee of the Committee of the Whole)
  • December 7, 2021: First vote by the full Council on the ward redistricting bill
  • December 21, 2021: Second vote on the ward redistricting bill
  • December 2021: Ward Task Forces (which provide recommendations on ANC redistricting) start meeting
  • February 2022: Ward Task Forces report out recommendations
  • May 2022: Subcommittee mark-up of the ANC redistricting bill
  • June 2022: Council votes on the ANC redistricting bill

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need to redistrict?

Every ten years, we draw new political boundaries within states, dividing up our residents into new districts of roughly equal size based on the decennial Census. This periodic rebalancing is crucial for making sure our legislatures have fair and equitable representation. If we don’t rebalance the wards every ten years, we’ll end up with big size imbalances; larger wards dilute the voting power of their residents, compared to smaller wards. Right now, we have some wards with 25 percent more population than others. We also want to ensure that some residents are not purposely gerrymandered or divided for political gain of one group over another.

How does redistricting affect me?

Redistricting will ensure you have an equal voice in our democracy, and an equal power in electing your government representatives.

Who is making the redistricting decisions?

Chairman Mendelson has appointed a subcommittee on redistricting, consisting of three at-large members: Elissa Silverman, who will chair the subcommittee, Anita Bonds, and Christina Henderson. The subcommittee will hold hearings and then make recommendations on redrawing boundaries in the form of legislation to the Committee of the Whole, which consists of the full Council. The legislation passed by the Committee of the Whole will then require two more votes by the full Council. This is the same process as with any other piece of legislation at the Council. Each ward will have a redistricting task force to make recommendations on redrawing ANC boundaries. Each ward council member will appoint members to their ward-specific task force.

How can I participate in the redistricting process?

There will be many opportunities for residents to participate in the redistricting process.  But there are four main ways:

  • Submit maps through the DC redistricting website. This website will allow members of the public to draw their own ward and ANC boundaries using the new Census data and submit these maps to the Council subcommittee for consideration. The public mapping tool will launch on September 17, at DCredistricting.esriemcs.com.
  • Testify before the Council's subcommittee.  These hearings will be open to the public, so anyone can testify on redistricting. The hearings will be at different times of day and different days of the week.
  • Submit testimony to the subcommittee. The subcommittee is accepting written and oral testimony, including maps. Any testimony submitted will be included in the committee report on the redistricting legislation.  Any written testimony will also be distributed to the subcommittee members before each hearing.  Written testimony can be emailed to [email protected]  The subcommittee is setting up a voicemail box for residents to also submit oral testimony in the near future.
  • Contact your councilmember.  Every member will have a vote on the new lines, and will be actively participating in the redistricting process.  You can find your councilmember's contact information here.

When will the mapping website be released?

The public mapping website will be available to the public on September 17.  When the site is launched, residents can go to DCredistricting.esriemcs.com to use the mapping software.

What factors are taken into consideration when drawing the new ward and ANC boundaries?

The Council will take into account a wide range of factors when considering the new ward and ANC lines.  It will look at population levels, age, race, voter turnout, income, education, geographic continuity, and many other data points. Want the Council to consider a particular way that your community is unique? Submit testimony to the subcommittee!

Will these new boundaries be in place for the next election?

Yes.  The Council will first vote on the new ward boundaries, in time for the primary election in June 2022.  The Council will then vote on the new ANC boundaries in time for the November 2022 general election, when ANC members are elected.

How will redistricting affect my access to city services?

Redistricting will not affect any your ability to access city services.  Some services, such as leaf collection and parking zones, do use the ward boundaries, but every resident will maintain access to all city services before and after redistricting.

How many people will be in each ward?

The Council will need to make sure each ward will have 86,193 residents, plus or minus 5%. That works out to between 81,883 and 90,503 people in each ward.

How will I know if I'm affected by the new lines?

The city will be publicizing and distributing the new maps once they are finalized.  They will be available through the Office of Planning and its What's My Ward? tool, the Board of Elections will mail out updated voter registration cards to registered voters, and the new maps will be posted on this website.  The final maps will also be distributed through Councilmember Silverman's newsletter, which residents can sign up for here.

What ward am I in right now?

You can look up your current ward, and see detailed maps of every ward, with the Office of Planning's What's My Ward? webpage.

Who can I contact if I have any questions about redistricting?

Anyone can email Councilmember Silverman at [email protected], or the redistricting subcommittee at [email protected]


Resources

  • The District's official redistricting mapping website is here: DCredistricting.esriemcs.com
  • See an interactive map of the current ward boundaries here.
    • See an interactive map of the 2002 boundaries (the boundaries before the 2011 redistricting) here.
  • Office of Planning website with initial summary data from the 2020 Census, available here.
  • The Council's legislative page for the bill that will be used to change the ward boundaries is here. (The introduced bill is just a placeholder bill with the old ward boundaries, to allow hearings to be scheduled.)
  • See the legislative histories for the 2011 and 2001 redistricting committees, including hearing videos, committee reports, proposed amendments, and vote results.