What You Need to Know About Colorado’s Redistricting Process – Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado 2021-04-08 18:27:09 –


The state’s new independent constituency change committee will draw a map that will shape the political situation over the next decade. Can the process be fair in the face of data delays and rampant polarization?


You’ve probably heard more about Colorado’s constituency change process than ever before. This is because the once-in-a-decade project that determines the boundaries of both parliamentary and state legislative districts looks a little different.

In 2018, Colorado voters passed a two-vote referendum. Y And Z, Each make up about 71 percent of the votes. The bill requires the state to establish two independent committees, one tasked with changing the constituency of the legislature and the other tasking with changing the constituency of the state legislature. Each committee features a 12-member committee of Colorado residents. There are four registered Democrats, four Republicans, and four unrelated members. The people chosen cannot be legislators, recent politician candidates, party officials, or lobbyists.

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So far, the legislature has been responsible for most of the constituency changes. And since these committees are new, they are under pressure. “I don’t want to get out of these with people who feel the process is unfair,” said former Colorado Secretary of State and Democratic Rep. Bernie Busher, who helped draft the amendments Y and Z. I will. In their election process. “

Here we have analyzed everything you need to know about complex efforts. This includes a reason to get off to a slightly bumpy start.

I may have fallen asleep in a junior high school public class. Can you explain about the district reorganization?

The US Constitution requires the US Census Bureau to count the country’s population every decade, and states use updated demographic information to determine the boundaries of the House of Representatives constituencies. States can lose or gain districts based on changes in population. (Colorado is expected to be the eighth House of Representatives constituency this year.) Depending on where the line is drawn, certain constituencies are also more likely to be Republican or Democratic. Basically, constituency changes have a big impact on the composition of the US House of Representatives.

The Colorado Constitution requires the state to do the same for its legislative district. There are still 35 Senates and 65 residential areas, but they may look different depending on where the population has grown and shrunk over the last decade.

What was the repartitioning process like before?

Until this cycle, the Colorado General Assembly was in charge of changing the constituency of Congress. The change of constituency in the Legislature was previously the power of a “redistribution” committee appointed by members of parliament, the governor, and the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. In both cases, elected civil servants or those selected by their group were charged with drawing a map to determine the likelihood that their party would retain or win a seat.

In other words, this process was lent to the party’s power gain. “In previous attempts, both parties were joking to draft maps and then get a fair amount of votes to adopt them,” says Buescher.

Because In most states, the legislature controls constituency changes., Gerrymandering, a practice that deliberately draws lines in favor of one administration, is rampant nationwide.

Did Colorado have a bad problem with Gerrymandering?

According to Buescher, Gerrymandering’s efforts in Colorado were not as terrible as in some other states. But that doesn’t mean that the last few subdivision efforts don’t involve some nasty battles. In three of the last four rounds, Congress failed to reach an agreement on the Parliament map by the set deadline, leaving the final decision to the district court judge.

The process often resents one party or the other, and the map is probably somewhat tilted. The most notorious example is the attempted “Midnight GerrymanderingIn 2011, the Republicans took advantage of the majority at the end of the legislative assembly to pass a new map with boundaries that could turn six of the seven House constituencies red. The Colorado Supreme Court finally ruled the map unconstitutional and revived the old map.

Democrats are also engaged in some partisan tricks.Former state legislature Rob Witwer (he is now independent), who joined the 2011 Redistribution Commission as a Republican, said the process of the year was Commanded by a political insider On both sides, I worked on my own map separately from each party. After months of debate, Democrats unknowingly submitted a new map the day before the deadline.

Whitwar said procedural justice was a top priority when he joined Busher and a former bipartisan parliamentary group to work on reform restructuring. He wanted to see nonpartisan staff draw the first map to avoid the “us vs. them” idea. He also wanted unrelated voters to have a meaningful voice in the process.

“”[The new system] This process was built on the idea that it needs to be removed from the shadows, “says Witwer. “Too much was happening in the back room, which is very important for transparency, public opinion, and the process without broader and more diverse expressions.”

Map of the Colorado House of Representatives constituency.Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

How is the commissioner now deciding how to map?

Many of the criteria the committee uses to create districts are the same as before. Efforts must be made to equalize the population of each district, and the influence of minority groups cannot be deliberately diminished.

The revised Constitution reiterates the Commission’s responsibility to protect “communities of interest,” essentially those who share common interests within the same district. This always includes counties and towns and is not supposed to be divided into different districts unless absolutely necessary, but now there are common concerns that may be affected by federal law. Explicitly include other communities with. It can be a connection to agriculture or other industries, water demand, education systems, or groups of race, ethnicity, or language.

The second major change is that the Commission is explicitly required to create as many politically competitive districts as possible. Buescher believes it helps facilitate partisanship and create better laws. “There is both case data and academic data that officials from highly competitive districts are forced to listen to all members, not just the party,” he says.

Who is on the committee?

A committee of retired judges selected members according to the long and complex process set out in the revised Constitution. The panel screened applications from interested citizens and sought people with citizens’ commitment and impartial and impartial abilities. They also sought to ensure that the Commission reflected Colorado’s geographical, racial, gender, and ethnic diversity.

Republican Parliamentarian Julie Marie Shepherd McClin said she was drawn to the idea that this was an independent process. “All of this spirit and design is actually set to produce the fairest results possible,” she says.

But it has already been questioned. In late March 9 news reported Republican Danny Moore parliamentary member, recently elected by another member, shared a Facebook post in support of the unfounded theory that the 2020 presidential election is fraudulent, calling COVID-19 “China.” Wuhan virus “was repeatedly mentioned.

As calls for his resignation increased, other members questioned his ability to distinguish between facts and fiction. They even questioned whether his comments discouraged the Asian-American community from participating in the process.

“I’m confident that everyone on this committee agrees to have the right to freedom of speech,” Democrat Paula Espinosa said at a meeting on Monday, April 5. Whether he is fair and impartial in his work on this committee and, as chair of the committee, can support the trust of the citizens of Colorado. “

Moore defended his post and refused to voluntarily resign. Eventually, the other 11 members unanimously voted to remove Moore from the chair. An unrelated member of the group, Commissioner Curly Hair, will be responsible for the committee.

How are they actually going to draw these maps?

Independent staff draw the first draft of the map. Staff director Jessica Shipley says it is likely to start from scratch, focusing solely on meeting constitutional standards. “We need a report that justifies every line we draw. We want to be able to choose the one that can do our best.”

The Commission will then hold at least three hearings in each of the current House constituencies for public feedback. The staff then develops a new plan and presents it to the committee. The committee can propose amendments. The committee must have a majority, including at least two unrelated members, in order to adopt the plan. If the Commission fails to reach an agreement by the deadline, a third “staff plan” will be submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court for approval.

Is anything happening with the census data?

The state was to receive detailed census data on March 31st. However, COVID-19 caused a delay in data collection and processing, According to the Census Bureau Information may not be disclosed until September 30th.

“If the data isn’t released until September 30, we can’t fully meet the deadline, but we still have to prepare everything,” says Shipley. According to Shipley, the census may release some data in early August in a format that is difficult for staff to process. But still, she says, it’s very difficult to meet all public comment requirements and get a final plan approved by the court by the November 1 deadline.

Also, extending the deadline is not a common option. Candidates considering running for election in 2022 need to know where they live and have enough time to submit properly and campaign effectively. There is.

Employees may be able to develop a preliminary plan based on “allocation data” that will be released by April 30 and show the state’s total population. They can supplement these figures with other sources, such as the American Community Survey, which collects estimated census data averaged over the last five years. It’s enough to get them started and presents a preliminary plan to the public with a warning that they will tweak the details when the actual data comes. However, there are still legal issues and neither committee has decided how to proceed with them.

So can the general public still be involved in this process?

Okay. Data delays mean that the details of local public support have not yet been organized, but both committees are looking for feedback in different ways. They are particularly interested in what Coloradans thinks of the community they are interested in. All meetings are public and recordings are available online. Colorado residents can submit public comments at any point in the process. Via this website..

“I hope people understand that this is not only a process to participate in, but a process to participate in and not too scary. No matter who you are, when these committees come to your town , You definitely have the ability and qualifications to testify, “says Amanda Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Colorado Common Cause, a group that works to strengthen democracy and promote public participation.

Data delays and scandals surrounding Commissioner Moore have meant a difficult start, but many expect the process to work as intended and provide a fairer map.

“”[The commissioners] There is an opportunity to regain public confidence in the system, “says Witwer. “And if they are truly transparent, minimize partisanship, and keep in mind public testimony … they can help begin the process of regaining trust in our institution. . “

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