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Redrawing Lines May Go Past 2012

But it has happened before in Florida. In the 1992 cycle, candidates filed to run for seats under the old map because courts had not yet cleared some of the boundaries of the new map. After courts signed off on the new map, candidates refiled to run within the newly established district boundaries, just before the primary.

Several decades ago, lawmakers had another solution for redistricting problems. They created at-large Congressional districts for Members to run in sometimes in some of the most populous states in the country. But the Supreme Court ruling in the 1960s and a 1967 law ended that practice.

Even if next years election calendar isnt disrupted by protracted court battles, theres still a chance that some state legislatures could try to revise their maps for 2014 or beyond.

Laws vary by state as to whether state legislators can redraw district boundaries mid-decade.

Thats what happened in 2005, when Georgia Republicans redrew the Congressional map put in place by Democrats in 2002.

If the state constitution is silent on Congressional redistricting, theres no impediment for the state to revisit redistricting later in the decade, redistricting attorney Jeff Wice said.

Georgia and Texas are not the only states to attempt a mid-decade map re-draw.

North Carolina lawmakers altered their Congressional boundaries twice in the 1990s as they went back and forth with the courts over a fair map.

And after courts drew the South Carolina maps for 2002, state lawmakers made minor tweaks to the maps for the 2004 cycle.

Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason University and an expert on what he calls re-redistricting, believes New York and Virginia are ripe for do-over Congressional maps in a couple of years.

Both have divided state government, state legislatures, and neither appeared to be able to produce a Congressional plan, McDonald said. The other factor is that after the next elections, it may be that those states will have unified state government. Thats the framework you need in order to have a re-redistricting: a change in control of the redistricting process through an election.

Lawmakers have not even released draft maps in New York, but the process will be contentious with Republicans in control of the state Senate and Democrats in charge of the House and governors office.

But theres a good chance Democrats will take control of the state Senate in 2012, putting the party in a strong position to redraw the Congressional map for the next cycle.

Virginia lawmakers have already reached a redistricting stalemate with Republicans in control of the state House and the governors mansion and Democrats in control of the state Senate. Theres a good chance that Republicans will take control of the Senate in either 2011 or 2013 and, in the latter case, could put the GOP in a strong position to draw a new map for that cycle.

Meanwhile, the redistricting process has already landed the Congressional maps from Minnesota, Nevada and Colorado in court. Its anyones guess how long litigation in those states could drag on.

I would assume that what would happen is there would be a plan that would be adopted, said Mark Gersh, a Democratic redistricting expert with NCEC Services. The question is whether some legal proceeding would go beyond this.

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