The Redistricting Process
As many as 3,600 districts in California will be modified to reflect population changes. The districts that will be redrawn include congressional, state senatorial, assembly, county supervisorial, state board of equalization, and trustee areas within cities, community college districts, unified school districts, high school districts, and elementary school districts.
If you are working in a district that is being redrawn for the 2022 primary or general election, you will need to pay careful attention to the district information throughout the PDI system.
As new districts are drawn and approved by various state and local governing agencies using census blocks, county Registrar of Voters offices throughout the state are tasked with the responsibility to build the official version of the new districts using voter precincts. This process may take several months to complete.
Fortunately, the folks at PDI have figured out how to accurately identify new districts without having to wait for the registrars to make the data available in their official voter files. We have made it possible for you to immediately query and analyze new districts in your PDI account. We cannot, however, remove or replace the old district information contained in the latest county voter files.
The purpose of this document is to help you manage the coexistence of new and old district information in your PDI account. Reading and understanding this information is critical for avoiding costly mistakes and potentially contacting voters outside your new district. Even if your district geography is not changing, you will be indirectly impacted by redistricting and should continue reading this document.
So, here is what you need to know.
1) Pay attention to the district labels - PDI has added a year in parentheses to all districts that will be redrawn in 2022. Districts that end with “(2020)” are old district versions before the redistricting process. Districts that end with “(2022)” are new districts post-redistricting. Each of these districts can have a (2020) version and (2022) version in the system.
If your district does not have a year noted at the end of its descriptive name, it will not be subject to redistricting changes.
2) Identifying new districts - The only place in the system where you can identify new districts is in the Create Universes → Geography tab → Quick District Find. You can, however, create a saved universe based on your new district criteria. As saved universes, new districts can be identified throughout the system.
3) Your PDI Account Geography
All PDI accounts are defined by electoral districts which are based on precincts. Since precincts are currently unreliable for defining new districts, we will need to layer two distinct methods for configuring account geographies.
The first will be using old district boundaries which the program will be expecting. We will, however, need to create a large enough geography to accommodate the new district. This would be simple for newly redrawn trustee areas where you can just use the entire at-large district. Creating a larger geography for congressional or legislative districts can be a little trickier. It is best to err with a wider geography to avoid unknowingly omitting part of your new district.
Once you have established a normal account geography that completely overlaps your new district, you can create a new saved universe that identifies individuals in the new district based on their census blocks. The saved universe can then be configured as your account geography from the Admin → Account Settings → Account Filter (by freehand query).
The code for using a saved universe would be SU. 'saved universe name'
PDI highly recommends noting in the account name (editable from the same account settings page) the actual district geography defined by an account filter. This will minimize any confusion related to what geography the account is currently accessing.
If you have a consultant account and frequently change your account geography, we suggest maintaining a statewide user account geography and making the account filter your primary method for managing account geography. This will require some discipline and organization to manage effectively, especially when moving between new and old districts. Keep in mind, the support team at PDI is ready to help when needed.
4) Precincts - There is no easy way to put this. Precincts are going to be messy for the next 6-8 months. Creating the new precincts that align with census blocks and electoral districts is complicated. County Registrars are currently busy modifying precinct boundaries to make this happen. It will be common for them to change precinct names and descriptions, making it difficult to utilize historic precinct data in upcoming elections.
Once the new precincts are redrawn, the county registrars will need to make sure every voter is correctly assigned to a precinct. The final step in the process is creating updated precinct boundary map files that provide a visual representation of precincts within a county. Unfortunately, there is likely to be a time gap between when the voter data and when the precinct map data is available to PDI. There is no viable solution for this issue until the counties reconcile their updated voter files with their precinct map data.
The issue with precinct maps will impact your ability to manage data in the mapping module which supports field canvassing functionality. You may need to rely on the individual voter data to reveal district geography rather than the visible precinct lines.
To identify the new district areas on mapping pages, we recommend using assignment methods with counts options. If the counts are zeros, you will know the precincts are outside the new district.
You can also use the button to display the voter locations on your map. This feature will help you identify the new district boundaries.
We are planning to add map layers for the district types as well as census blocks. This will help define district boundaries when implemented. We will keep you posted on our progress.
5) Count Reports - All enumerated district details in the Custom Count Reports and Precinct Count Reports will be old districts. The only way to utilize new districts in count reports is with Saved Universes for individual columns, rows, or reports.
6) Output File and Lists - All district details in the output files, printable lists, mobile device, and phone banks will be old districts. There will be no way to show new districts until the voter files are updated.
These outputs are using the old districts.
7) Tableau - Tableau reporting will map to your new district boundaries, but the precinct names and shapes may not be current. The counts and maps will use old precincts until the counties are completely updated.
8) Now the Messy Part
As you can see, redistricting is messy. Waiting for counties to update their districts and precincts will be challenging. For most new districts, the chaotic mess of redistricting ends when their county registrar is done updating their district and precinct boundaries. If your district overlaps more than one county, the complications of redistricting get worse as the counties begin to update their data.
Inevitably, one portion of a district will get updated before the remaining portion. This makes the district data inconsistently inaccurate and you can no longer rely on the established district data. The districting info displayed may be correct in some counties and incorrect in other counties.
There is no solution for these data inconsistencies other than waiting for all the counties to complete their redistricting updates. This will likely be ready in late March of 2022 for districts with primary elections. If you can appreciate the value in having the data for new districts early, it will hopefully give you patience to manage the mess.
After the Storm
As counties are updated, we (PDI) will create archived districts to maintain record of the old district boundaries. We will remove them after 2026.
We will maintain archives for the following district types:
- State Senate
- State Assembly
- County Supervisor
- City Council
- Community College Trustee Areas
- Unified School District Trustee Areas
- High School District Trustee Areas
- Elementary School District Trustee Areas