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GOP Election Gains in NH Mean Control Over 2021 Redistricting Process

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Despite gains for New Hampshire Democratic lawmakers in 2016, Republicans will draw maps in 2021 after taking back both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate. (Wikimedia Commons)
Despite gains for New Hampshire Democratic lawmakers in 2016, Republicans will draw maps in 2021 after taking back both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate. (Wikimedia Commons)
 By Lily Bohlke - Producer, Contact
December 3, 2020

CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire's newly elected Republican majorities on the General Court are readying for next year's redistricting process.

Lawmakers will redraw voting-district boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state House and the state Senate based on the results of the 2020 census.

According to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight.com, Republican state lawmakers nationwide are set to control redistricting for 43% of seats in the U.S. House, compared with Democrats' 17%.

That includes New Hampshire, the only state legislature to flip in the November elections.

Wendy Underhill, director of the elections and redistricting program for the National Conference of State Legislatures, noted in the 2010 cycle, the GOP controlled the General Court but the governor was a Democrat.

"This decade will be different in that all three seats of power; the Senate, the House and the governor; are all held by Republicans," Underhill explained. "It makes it easier for the party to enact the laws, including redistricting lines, that they're interested in."

She added while Republicans do have the "trifecta" this time, there's still room for conflict and negotiation.

Underhill pointed out New Hampshire is one of the "purplest" states in the nation, and that it's not rare to find a Democratic governor paired with a Republican General Court, or vice versa.

"Political control in the Legislature changes more often in New Hampshire than in any other state," Underhill observed.

New Hampshire lawmakers in 2019 introduced bipartisan legislation to establish an independent commission to draw maps, but Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed it.

He argued the state's maps tend to be fair and avoid what's known as partisan gerrymandering, or redrawing district lines to specifically favor one party over the other.

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