IVN — The Colorado Rockies are home to many stunning features, one of which is the Continental Divide, which separates the watersheds of the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. Now, while the Continental Divide is well-known, the state is also becoming known for another type of division that’s stunning for a very different reason.
Every 10 years, the Colorado Reapportionment Commission meets to divide up the state into districts based on the U.S. Census. They are charged with setting boundaries, substantially equal in population, for the state’s 35 State Senate and 65 State House districts.
In 2011, the last time Colorado’s districts were redrawn, they were drawn in such a way that the party receiving 55% of the vote in the 2014 elections ended up with fewer than half of the seats in the House of Representatives.
Through a process called gerrymandering, by which political partisans rig district boundaries to favor one class or party over another. Drawing districts based exclusively race or ethnicity is illegal, but up to this point, drawing them based on political party composition is allowed, though frowned upon by the Supreme Court.
The upshot of this partisan gerrymandering in Colorado? Only one of the state’s seven congressional districts is truly competitive, and none of those seven districts have changed party hands this decade. Of the state’s 65 State House districts, only three have changed party hands this decade.
Our vision for Colorado is congressional and legislative districts drawn using neutral, good-government criteria that promote more competitive elections.
Kathleen Curry, a former state legislator and FDFE board member