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What you need to know about Iowa's redistricting process

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Once a decade, a nonpartisan state agency draws the lines that settle how you will be represented in the Iowa Legislature and Congress.

While things seem quiet, a tremendous decision is fomenting in Des Moines. Redistricting happens every ten years deciding where political lines are drawn.

Traditionally, state legislatures are responsible for redistricting. That is true for legislative redistricting in 35 states and for Congressional redistricting in 40 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Iowa vests this important responsibility in the nonpartisan Iowa Legislative Services Agency. They are tasked with drafting maps that must then receive legislative approval.

On this episode of River to River, we get the ins and outs of how Iowa will evaluate these maps and how political realities might challenge that process.

Host Ben Kieffer begins the hour with a discussion about what you need to know about this process with two political scientists. Then, sociologist Dave Peters discusses how Iowa demographic trends shape these maps. Last, we have a roundtable with some of the reporters closely covering this process.


  • Donna Hoffman, professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa
  • Chris Larimer, professor of political science, University of Northern Iowa
  • Dave Peters, professor of rural sociology at Iowa State University
  • Katarina Sostaric, state government reporter for Iowa Public Radio
  • James Q. Lynch, reporter for The Cedar Rapids Gazette
  • O. Kay Henderson, news director for Radio Iowa and host of Iowa PBS’ Iowa Press
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa