Arizona’s redistribution cards strengthen Republicans’ power. It’s wrong

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) was created by voters in 2000 to redirect constituencies into the hands of an independent commission tasked with creating “fair and competitive maps.”

The idea was to get out of gerrymandering where the party holding the majority in the Legislative Assembly could push the voters of its opponents into a few districts (“pack”) or divide (“crack”) these voters into several districts.

Unfortunately the Maps proposed by the Cutting Commission pack and crack. Northern Arizona is one example.

80% of residents live in a “safe” neighborhood

The redistribution of parliamentary and legislative constituencies is based on the new census figures and with the aim of creating constituencies with roughly equal populations. They must be geographically compact and respect communities of interest, geographic features and borders, while respecting the law on voting rights and striving for competitiveness.

The Arizona Constitution requires that the IRC meet each of these criteria.

After receiving expert testimony, the commission chose two metrics to measure competitiveness: the average distribution of votes between Democratic and Republican candidates in nine recent statewide elections in the proposed district, and whether only one party would have won all nine elections in the proposed district.

By the commission’s own definition, the map projects fail to create competitive districts in 24 of Arizona’s 30 legislative districts. At least 80% of the state’s residents are said to be in uncompetitive “safe” neighborhoods, which would discourage participation from Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

Why vote if a party is sure to win?

Why vote in general elections if the primary determines the winner? Of these “safe” districts, 13 are Republicans and 11 Democrats, making Republican control of the legislature very likely for a decade.

Cards would dilute a Democratic stronghold

In northern Arizona, the relatively sparse population and partisan distribution means, naturally, that some of the four legislative districts north of Phoenix must be uncompetitive.

Nonetheless, the Redistricting Commission could create a competitive legislative district and a competitive congressional district in the north. Instead, he missed the opportunity and concocted a gerrymandering plan under the pretext of keeping Yavapai County whole.

A competitive legislative district would closely resemble the current LD 6 established by the 2011 commission, which combines the eastern third of Yavapai County (Sedona and Verde Valley) into a district with southern Coconino County and parts of the Gila and Navajo counties.

Instead, the current Carving Commission left Yavapai County untouched – maps drawn in 2011 used Mount Mingus as a natural point to divide the county – grouping Democrats into a single district that includes Flagstaff and several Native American tribal lands. .

Predominantly Democratic, Sedona is split between two safe Republican neighborhoods. As a result, Republicans gain a safe neighborhood at the cost of a competitive neighborhood.

Additionally, placing Flagstaff in the Tribal District (Legislative District 7) reduces the likelihood that Native Americans will have three Representatives on duty, as they currently do, since those Representatives will be competing with the Flagstaff Democrats.

They would give the Amerindians less their say

In the map proposed by Congress, the Redistricting Commission adds western Yavapai County to what was previously a highly competitive Congressional district, turning it into a safe Republican district and diluting the vote of 13 Native American tribes.

Previously, the east side of Yavapai County belonged to the highly competitive Congressional District 1, where Democrats have won, most recently with Tom O’Halleran. West Yavapai was combined with the Colorado River counties, creating a safe Congressional District 4 for Republicans like Paul Gosar.

According to the commission’s proposal, O’Halleran’s seat is absorbed into a new uncompetitive Republican Congressional District while the Colorado River District expands into Maricopa County to preserve a secure Republican seat.

There is a cost to this plan of keeping Yavapai County whole: the draft maps remove one of the county’s congressional representatives and three of its lawmakers, reducing his voice in Congress and the Legislature. But the county’s sacrifice solidifies the Republican majorities in the legislature for the next 10 years and topples a popular and moderate Democratic congressman.

The center of attention is Yavapai County. Rethinking the lines

Republicans have rallied their support for developing the draft maps on the basis of a disinformation campaign. They claimed that dividing Yavapai County into two districts, as has been the case for the past 10 years, was a mistake as the county provides county-wide services such as libraries, a community college. , a sheriff and building codes, and everyone pays property taxes in Prescott.

A large number of the speakers seemed to think the commission was redrawing their county boundaries instead of congressional and legislative districts.

Whether or not there are competitive districts in northern Arizona, Prescott and the four cities of Yavapai County will be in Republican-dominated districts.

Hopefully the independent chairman of our constituency commission follows the leadership of the voters and the constitutional requirement to create fair and competitive maps. Redrawing the lines properly in northern Arizona is a step in that direction.

Ann Heitland, retired lawyer and real estate agent, is President of the Coconino County Democratic Party and Senior Vice President of the Arizona Democratic Party. His opinions are not on behalf of both groups. On Twitter: @annheitland.

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