A public hearing is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. tonight to give Iowans a chance to comment on the plan to reconfigure Iowa’s congressional and legislative district boundaries.

Plan 1 for redistricting to account for population shifts over the past decade was released last Thursday. The maps for new districts were drawn by staff in the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency and, by state law, those staff members may not consider where incumbent lawmakers live. That’s to prevent “gerrymandering” used in other states to ensure the party in power keeps its  political advantage.

“I find it really refreshing and fascinating that Iowa uses this process,” Drake University political science professor Rachel Paine Caufield says. “The voters should feel reassured that this process really is producing the most fair congressional districts possible.”

Iowa law requires that three public hearings be held on the redistricting plan. Tonight’s hearing will be held online from 7 to 9:30 p.m. You can find information on the Iowa Legislature’s website about how to testify and watch. There will be another “virtual” public hearing tomorrow from noon until 3 p.m. and a third public hearing on Wednesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

(By Katarina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio )