Director’s Note

Return to Redistricting Committee Main Page

Return to LRO Redistricting

Legislative Research Briefing


September 10, 2021

The Redistricting Committee has proposed eight different plans for redistricting, including two sets of alternative plans for the Legislature and U.S. House of Representatives. These PROPOSED BASE PLANS are now available online to review in advance of the special session. We anticipate the plans will be introduced as eight separate bills on Monday, September 13, 2021. Once introduced, those bills will constitute the formal plans for public input. Hearings on these bills will be held next week in each congressional district, as previously announced by the Speaker.


Other members of the Legislature and their staff are welcome to work on their own plans and maps in the Legislative Research Office, where our staff is prepared to assist with drawing maps or assisting your own map making efforts. Please refamiliarize yourself with LR 134, the substantive criteria to guide redistricting at the state level in 2021, and the Redistricting Committee’s Operating Procedures and Administrative Guidelines for mapmaking.


Senators or their staff who would like to make their own maps may schedule time through the Legislative Research Office by stopping by, emailing or calling 402-471-2221. If you would like to make unofficial maps online with free open source software, you can check out DistrictBuilder, Districtr, or Dave’s Redistricting are some options. Our staff can assist with converting or importing some file types. We are happy to help, especially given the expedited timeline for the special session.


With how near we are to the special session, now is a good time to practice spelling “contiguous” and saying “contiguity” (kän-tə-ˈgyü-ə-tē)!

— Benjamin Thompson, Director of Research

Redistricting Criteria

We previously shared several redistricting primers to help you prepare for the special session. For a deeper dive into the redistricting criteria and other redistricting considerations, check out NCSL’s Redistricting Resources on its website.


Differential Privacy for Census Data Explained

Since the 1840 census, the Census Bureau has been working to keep responses private. In 1910, the potential for jail time became a reality for census takers who reveal information gathered in any census. In 1952, the “72-year rule” was initiated that restricts public release of census records for 72 years. In 1970, suppression became a way for the Census Bureau to prevent disclosure of sensitive information provided through the census. Data swapping was implemented in the 1990’s as another way to protect disclosures. Sampling of data and rounding of results were also employed later as another way of protecting against data disclosures. Now the Census Bureau is using “differential privacy.” To learn more, visit NCSL‘s webpage with differential privacy resources for policy generalists.


August 26, 2021

The 2020 Census redistricting data is based in part on responses to updated race and ethnicity questions, and the data provides a new perspective on the racial and ethnic makeup of Nebraska. Respondents were able to answer by identifying with a single race or multiple races. To explore the data, check out the interactive Nebraska State Profile recently published at the Census Bureau’s America Counts website.

As the country has grown, we have continued to evolve in how we measure the race and ethnicity of the people who live here. …. The improvements we made to the 2020 Census yield a more accurate portrait of how people self-identify in response to two separate questions on Hispanic origin and race, revealing that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more diverse than what we measured in the past.

– Nicholas Jones, Director and Senior Advisor for Race and Ethnicity Research and Outreach, U.S. Census Bureau

Given the constitutional and statutory protections extended to minority races and languages, the redistricting process must be done without “racial gerrymandering” or vote dilution. For more information, refer to the next primer in our series, Redistricting and Minority Rights.

— Benjamin Thompson, Director of Research



The Census Bureau recently released the Nebraska State Profile on America Counts, featuring data visualizations with population, housing, race, ethnicity, diversity and age data. The demographic data is available for the entire state as well as by county using interactive maps. Profiles are available for every other state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for comparison purposes. You can review the one page Nebraska State Profile here.



The Legislative Research Office has prepared a series of primers to assist the Legislature with navigating the 2021 redistricting process. The third primer is Redistricting and Minority Rights.

Legislators charged with developing nondiscriminatory redistricting plans must make sure that the redistricting process is open to minority participation. If a state’s plan is challenged under the Voting Rights Act, the Court will examine the state’s actions, looking at whether or not minorities were included in the process; whether information was freely shared with interested members of minority groups; and whether the opinions of minority groups were given due consideration as the redistricting plan was developed.

Read the primer (pdf)


August 23, 2021

Since the Census Bureau released local census data for redistricting, our office has been engaged in the data quality assurance review process in preparation for mapmaking. We have installed the official redistricting mapping software on two dedicated GIS workstations in our office.

The Legislature already passed LR 134, which adopted the substantive criteria to guide redistricting at the state level in 2021. After the Redistricting Committee adopts a procedural resolution and administrative guidelines regarding mapmaking, we will host training sessions for those senators and staff interested in using the workstations and drawing maps.

You can learn more about the redistricting process in Nebraska and keep up to date here:

Redistricting Committee’s website
Legislative Research Office’s website

— Benjamin Thompson, Director of Research


Nebraska Redistricting 2021


Until the 1960s, both courts and state legislatures went to great lengths to avoid the politically charged process of redrawing district boundaries.  When they did tackle the task of redistricting, they sometimes failed to get legislation passed. As a result, legislative districts became unbalanced as populations changed and district boundaries remained the same.

Because all districts elect the same number of representatives, each vote cast in a district with a smaller population has a more significant impact on the legislative outcome than a vote cast in a district with a larger population. This creates an imbalance that gives voters in sparsely populated legislative districts more political influence than their neighbors in more heavily populated districts. Ultimately, the Supreme Court felt compelled to step in.

For a summary of the most significant Supreme Court redistricting opinions from the last six decades, visit NCSL’s webpage Redistricting and the Supreme Court: The Most Significant Cases. For a more targeted look at population equality opinions, check out our new primer below.



The Legislative Research Office has prepared a series of primers to assist the Legislature with navigating the 2021 redistricting process. “One person, one vote” refers to the idea that one person’s voting power ought to be roughly equivalent to another person’s within the same state. Learn more in our second primer, Supreme Court: “One Person, One Vote.”

Read the primer (pdf)


Upcoming Events


August 26, 2021, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

The Center for Public Affairs Research is hosting another live webinar as part of its virtual Nebraska Data Users Conference. This webinar includes sessions on Nebraska State and Local Population Trends with David Drozd, Research Coordinator with Center for Public Affairs Research  at UNO, and Redistricting: Examples and Experiences from Other States with Ben Williams, Policy Specialist with the Elections and Redistricting Program at National Conference of State Legislatures, and Wayne Bena, Deputy Secretary of State for Elections. Learn more and register at CPAR’s website.


August 12, 2021

The Legislature is responsible for redistricting after each decennial census, resulting in new districts and maps for the U.S. House of Representatives; Nebraska Legislature; Nebraska Supreme Court; State Board of Education; University of Nebraska Board of Regents; and Public Service Commission. Political subdivisions then must tackle their own redistricting after the Legislature completes its work.

This cycle marks the third with a special legislative committee appointed by the Executive Board — the Redistricting Committee — overseeing the state process, with staff support from the Legislative Research Office. Staff in our office have been at work on this process for over five years now, coordinating with the Census Bureau and various state entities and political subdivisions to ensure that redistricting uses the most timely and accurate local data possible under the law.

Redistricting is a monumental undertaking in any cycle, but with the 2020 Census interrupted by the pandemic and the results delayed nearly six months, this cycle is unprecedented. Everyone responsible for redistricting must now work quickly in a vastly shortened time frame. I want to thank everyone that plays a role in the redistricting process for their hard work to date and in the weeks and months ahead.


— Benjamin Thompson, Director of Research

Census Bureau Releases First Local Level Results

Today, the Census Bureau made available the first local level census results for redistricting purposes. The Census Bureau hosted a press conference to discuss the data release and provide an “initial analysis of the first local level results from the 2020 Census on population change, race, ethnicity, the age 18 and over population, and housing occupancy status.” You can learn more about the Census Bureau’s data release at Other useful Census Bureau information is available from: