As legislators go about the work of redrawing political maps, one fundamental rule guiding their decisions will be to keep the populations of political districts as equal as possible.

Since the 17th Amendment severed the direct relationship between state legislatures and the U.S. Senate nearly 100 years ago, the redistricting process has become the single most important lever for states to influence the composition of Congress.  This session explored the challenges before states as they embark on this vital task.

In a decade when the U.S. population grew at the smallest rate since the 1930s and the Great Depression, every Midwestern state failed to keep pace with the nation’s 10-year growth rate of 9.7 percent.

It isn’t encouraging when a professor from the Columbia University Law School, who specializes in redistricting, tells you that your state will almost certainly be sued when redistricting takes place across the country next year.

“You are going to get sued,” said Nathaniel Persily, the professor in question, at the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee meeting Sunday afternoon. ”That’s true. There’s going to be a lot of that.”

One of the big issues that may be generating some of the lawsuits concerns how prisoners...