Thursday, October 18, 2018

Colorado Takes on Redistricting – KOA Radio

The Colorado State Legislature referred two constitutional measures to the ballot: Amendment Y Congressional Redistricting and Amendment Z State Legislative Redistricting. KOA Radio anchors Marty Lenz and Ed Greene talked about Colorado’s ballot proposals. A few points made in the interview:
Marty Lenz and Ed Greene
  • Changes to the process of redistricting are very important to the politics of the state. It will influence which party controls the legislature, and in 2022, it could decide which party has the best chance to win Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District.
  • America has been concerned about the fairness of redistricting since its founding. Gerrymandering has been and still is controversial. In Colorado, out of the current seven congressional districts, only one appears competitive – the 6th CD of Mike Coffman – in the metro area. All the rest, Democrats DeGette, Polis and Perlmutter or Republicans Buck, Lamborn and Tipton have not been closely challenged in elections for most of their careers.
  • In the State Legislature, only 4 or 5 districts in the 35-person State Senate are considered competitive.
  • The main goal of the measures is to reduce partisanship in the drawing of new maps after the census and add competition between the parties as one of the criteria the new commissioners should consider. The two measures were put on the ballot by the leadership of both parties and the members of both houses. The major interest groups that advocate reform are on board and there doesn’t appear to be engaged opposition.
  • The proposals are complex, taking 22 pages of the War and Peace length, 65-page Blue Book. The three main goals are to reduce the partisanship among map drawers by allowing retired judges to pick people from applicants, with some people put on the panel by random draw. A non-partisan staff is supposed to assist.
  • Rules to increase transparency with open records, open meetings and lobbyists having to register were added.
  • Finally, after the normal criteria for drawing districts, such as equal population and voting rights, be as compact as reasonable, and preserve communities of interest (cities, communities, etc.) where possible, they will attempt to maximize competitive districts.
  • The whole effort ends with a Supreme Court review for possible “abuse of discretion” in applying the criteria.
  • Opponents complain the process is too complex, the criteria too vague and opaque, and it won’t really remove partisan preferences.
These two reapportionment measures are likely to pass.

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