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What are Congressional Districts?

Congressional districts are the 435 areas from which members are elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. After the apportionment of congressional seats among the states, which is based on decennial census population counts, each state with multiple seats is responsible for establishing congressional districts for the purpose of electing representatives. Each congressional district is to be as equal in population to all other congressional districts in a state as practicable. The boundaries and numbers shown for the congressional districts are those specified in the state laws or court orders establishing the districts within each state.

Congressional districts for the 108th through 112th sessions were established by the states based on the result of the 2000 Census. Congressional districts for the 113th through 116th sessions were established by the states based on the result of the 2010 Census. Boundaries are effective until January of odd number years (for example, January 2015, January 2017, etc.), unless a state initiative or court ordered redistricting requires a change. All states established new congressional districts in 2011-2012, with the exception of the seven single member states (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming).

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How did the Census Bureau acquire the Congressional District boundaries?

For the states that have more than one representative, the Census Bureau requested a copy of the state laws or applicable court order(s) for each state from each secretary of state and each 2010 Redistricting Data Program state liaison requesting a copy of the state laws and/or applicable court order(s) for each state. Additionally, the states were asked to furnish their newly established congressional district boundaries and numbers by means of geographic equivalency files.

The Census Bureau entered this information into its geographic database and produced tabulation block equivalency files that depicted the newly defined congressional district boundaries. Each state liaison was furnished with their file and requested to review, submit corrections, and certify the accuracy of the boundaries.

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