Redistricting: How Senate Democrats would do it

Democrats in the state Senate have submitted a plan for the chamber’s seats as part of the once-per-decade redistricting process.

Democrats currently hold six of 33 seats in the chamber. Republicans have yet to release their draft plan.

Here’s the release from the Senate Democratic caucus:

NASHVILLE—Nearly every city in the state and 87 counties are kept whole in Tennessee Senate districts under a proposed statewide map released Friday by Democrats.

“This proposal keeps communities together—whole counties and whole cities wherever possible,” says Sen. Jeff Yarbro, the Tennessee Senate minority leader. “We want every member of every community to know that their voice matters in the state Senate and that their vote will make a difference.”

Democrats are releasing their 33–district Senate proposal after gathering input directly from Tennesseans at five public community meetings across the state. Additionally, members of the Democratic caucus participated in dozens more meetings hosted by local organizations to discuss how districts should change in 2022.

“This is a fair map that directly incorporates feedback from people and organizations who told us, ‘please keep our city together,’” Sen. Raumesh Akbari said. “This is a map that keeps more cities and more communities together than ever before. It’s a map that makes senators more accountable to the voters they serve.”

Biggest changes

Most of the districts in this proposal shift toward Middle Tennessee to accommodate for the region’s explosive population growth. But every district in the proposal retains core characteristics from the current map.

  • Antioch added to La Vergne & Smyrna’s Senate Seat: Senate District 13 maintains its base in western Rutherford County, but it now extends into southeast Nashville to create a full a Senate District for like-communities of Antioch, La Vergne and Smyrna along the I-24 corridor.
  • Bradley County unsplit. This proposal undoes a controversial decision from 2012: splitting Bradley County into two districts. Senate District 10 instead returns to Hamilton County with its lines around the city of Chattanooga and Senate District 9 takes in the whole of Bradley County along with McMinn, Meigs and Rhea counties.
  • Full Senate Seat within Montgomery County: Following a decade where they county saw a near 30 percent growth in population, the city of Clarksville almost qualifies to have its very own state senate seat. In this proposal, Senate District 22 sheds two counties to the west and now captures the core of Clarksville along with unincorporated areas north of the Cumberland River.
  • West Tenn. Districts Get Bigger: West Tennessee saw slow growth in many counties and population loss in others — a trend that forces senate districts to expand geographically. As such: Senate District 24 grows east from six to eight counties. Senate District 26 grows east from eight to nine counties. Senate District 27 grows from 5 to 6 counties. And Senate District 32 grows from Tipton County and a portion of Shelby County to three counties and a portion of Shelby.

About districting

Before the 2022 election cycle, the Tennessee General Assembly must, by law, draw political boundaries so that Tennessee’s 33 senate districts have a roughly equal number of people.

The community districting process — also called redistricting or reapportionment — happens every 10 years after federal census officials release data showing the population of every city, town and county in the nation.

A good district map reflects a whole community or a community of shared interests, such as a city, neighborhood or group of people who have common policy concerns that would benefit from being drawn into a single district.

Next steps

To offer feedback on the senate district maps proposed by state Democrats, email

Sen. Yarbro and Sen. Akbari will present this concept to Republicans on Tuesday, Dec. 14 at a meeting of the Senate ad hoc committee on redistricting. The committee will also review maps submitted by members the public.

The Republican caucus is not expected to release either their proposed Senate map or a Congressional map at the meeting.

With or without public comment on draft maps, Republicans are expected to hold a vote on their preferred new district lines soon after the General Assembly reconvenes on Jan. 11.

Fewer divided communities

To comply with the constitutional requirement of “one person, one vote,” each senate district must have a “substantially equal population” close to 209,419. That population requirement means some counties must be split.

Of the eight counties that are divided between senate districts in this proposal, seven require the split due to population. Of the eight county splits in the current map, only five were required due to population.

Additionally, more than 20 cities that are divided in the current map are kept whole in this proposal, according to the caucus’ analysis.

Our goal was to draw districts that are faithful to cities, counties and natural community lines, Sen. Yarbro said.

“Most voters don’t know the boundaries of their districts and precincts, but they know their neighborhoods, their towns and the big roads nearby,” Sen. Yarbro said. “We should draw lines so they make sense for voters when they need to call their legislators, instead of only making sense on one day every four years when politicians need to call on voters.”

Close up images

Shelby County

Shelby County: At a population of 929,744, Shelby County requires 4.4 senate districts in the legislature. This proposal maintains most of the basic structure from the 2012 maps while improving the district lines by keeping every city in the county whole.

Montgomery County

Montgomery County: Currently, Senate District 22 consists of Montgomery, Stewart and Houston counties, but the fast-growing city of Clarksville is now nearly large enough for its own Senate district.

This proposal keeps Clarksville whole in Senate District 22 and shares a portion of Montgomery County that lies between the banks of the Cumberland River with Senate District 25.

Williamson County and Maury County

Williamson County and Maury County: Williamson has outgrown its sole Senate district. The county now requires, roughly 1.2 senate districts in the legislature.

Under this proposal, Senate District 23 includes the majority of Williamson County.

The split is shared with Maury County. The city of Spring Hill, which straddles the county line, is kept whole in the proposed Senate District 28 — making both districts close to the ideal population.

Davidson County: At a population of 715,884, Davidson County requires 3.4 senate seats at the legislature.

Senate District 19: This proposal focuses on keeping Nashville’s historically Black neighborhoods together in Senate District 19 — Hadley Park, North Nashville, Bordeaux, Whites Creek, Edgehill, while also recognizing the growth of diverse neighborhoods between I-24 and I-40.

Senate District 13: In Southeast Nashville on the east side of Bell Road, you’ll find about 40% of Senate District 13, which connects the like-communities of Antioch, La Vergne and Smyrna along the I-24 corridor.

Senate Districts 20 and 21: Under this map, these districts trade a variety of neighborhoods to reconfigure both districts to be more compact.

Rutherford County

Rutherford County: Booming Rutherford County requires 1.6 senate districts in the state legislature, meaning it must share a senate seat with an adjacent community.

This map creates Senate District 13 along the I-24 corridor to reflect the shared interests and deep connections between Antioch, La Vergne and Smyrna.

Connecting the communities of interest shared between Davidson and Rutherford counties, aligns the needs of those families around child care, school funding, housing and transportation.

Senate District 14 includes the vast majority of the city of Murfreesboro and also the remaining portions of Rutherford County, such as Eagleville, Rockvale, Christiana and Walterhill.

Hamilton County

Hamilton County: Hamilton County requires 1.7 seats in the state senate.

Senate District 10: This map creates a full district within the city of Chattanooga. The district also includes the smaller communities of East Ridge, Red Bank and Lookout Mountain.

Senate District 11: The remaining portion of Hamilton County, which includes the mountain towns of Signal Mountain, Fairview, Walden and Mowbray Mountain, are connected with Marion, Sequatchie and Bledsoe counties. Those communities that share the tourism-attracting ridgeline and beautiful Sequatchie Valley to the west. Marion County also shares a major portion of the Tennessee River with Hamilton County.

Knox County

Knox County: At 478,971 people, Knox County requires 2.3 senate seats in the legislature. This concept reconfigures each district to keep the city of Knoxville nearly whole in one district.

Senate District 6: Community members in Knoxville asked to keep their community whole and this map delivers on that feedback.

Senate District 7: This district connects the suburban and rural areas of Knox County from Farragut to Powell. During public comment, citizens said there is a distinct difference between the issues facing Knoxville and smaller, rural communities that reside outside the city limits.

Senate District 5: The remaining portion of Knox County, which includes Karns, connects Anderson, Union and Loudon counties — similar to the existing map.

Upper East Tennessee: Under this proposal, Senate District 3 is nearly identical to the current district, except this map makes Washington, Unicoi and Carter counties whole.

Senate District 4 connects Johnson and Sullivan counties with about 30,000 people from the nearby communities of Mount Carmel, Church Hill and Surgoinsville in Hawkins County.


Posts and Opinions about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.