The Hill – Advocates of radically overhauling partisan gerrymandering are increasingly looking to ballot initiatives to reform the redistricting process, in hopes of circumventing recalcitrant legislatures.
Supporters of a proposal to create a nonpartisan redistricting commission in Michigan say they will turn in more than 400,000 signatures by the end of the year. They need 315,000 of those signatures to be valid in order to qualify for next year’s ballot.
In Ohio, a coalition of organizations is in the process of collecting the 305,591 valid signatures they need to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot.
And in Colorado, another coalition plans two ballot initiatives — one that would reform congressional redistricting, and another to reform legislative redistricting.
The Denver Post – Kent Thiry, the multimillionaire CEO of DaVita Inc., announced Wednesday that he would throw his weight — and presumably his wealth — behind an ongoing effort to change how Colorado draws the boundaries of statehouse and congressional seats.
His decision to join Fair Districts Colorado, which wants to transform the state’s redistricting process, comes a year after Thiry bankrolled a similar campaign — the passage of two ballot measures that gave unaffiliated voters the ability to participate in Democratic and Republican primaries.
Durango Herald – Should voters pick their legislative representatives or should politicians pick their voters? Should congressional and legislative district boundaries – adjusted every 10 years after the Census – be drawn by partisans for partisans? Or should maps be drawn by a balanced, independent commission using nonpartisan staff who are obligated to use neutral, fair criteria?
Sometimes, it’s not so much how residents of a community vote in an election that determines the winner, but how the borders of their legislative district are manipulated that affects the outcome of that election.
A push toward fair, legislative re-districting is under way in Colorado. Gunnison resident and former state legislator Kathleen Curry is leading the charge to end gerrymandering. In partnership with the Colorado League of Women Voters (LWV), and with help from a non-profit, non-partisan organization called Fair Districts Colorado, she’s filed three new ballot initiatives designed to improve Colorado’s often-contentious redistricting process.
Gerrymandering is the practice of redrawing and reshaping borders around legislative districts in a way that favors one political party over another. It has also been used to suppress the African-American vote, and to deprive Black and Latino voters of power in some states.
“Under our current system, politicians end up picking their voters instead of voters picking their politicians,” said Curry. “With our initiatives, more elections will be decided by competitive November elections instead of safe-seat primaries, making candidates actually compete for more voters.” Curry is the only unaffiliated candidate ever to have served in the Colorado state legislature.
The Colorado Independent – A coalition that launched a revamped plan it says would take partisanship out of how state and federal political districts are drawn is facing suspicions about its motives in a state with a bitter history that has left its district maps stained with bad blood.
At issue is a group called Fair Districts Colorado and its effort to persuade voters through a package of proposed ballot measures in 2018 to change the way electoral maps are drawn. It’s happening in this swingy state where voters are nearly evenly balanced among Democrats, Republicans and those who are unaffiliated with a party. And it’s happening at a time when political frustration with gerrymandering— a term for drawing political boundaries for partisan gain— is sizzling on the national stage.
While we will withhold judgment of the organization’s proposal until we see the final language and whether it qualifies for the ballot this year, we’re encouraged that someone is stepping up to make this system of drawing districts more fair to voters of all political views.
The Daily Sentinel – An unlikely coalition of former elected leaders from both sides of the political spectrum have joined forces to fix what they say is wrong with the way the state redraws congressional and legislative district lines.
The coalition includes two former governors, three past speakers of the Colorado House, two former secretaries of state and numerous state representatives and senators.
Along with the League of Women Voters, the coalition submitted a proposed ballot measure Wednesday to change the way the state redraws congressional and legislative boundaries every 10 years, after the U.S. Census reports population changes.
The Gazette – A bipartisan group filed paperwork on ballot initiatives Wednesday to redraw the rules on how legislative and congressional districts are drawn in Colorado, a process that now ensures lots of safe districts for parties to control and feeds partisan gridlock in the state Capitol.
The paperwork to get on the November 2018 ballot was submitted by the League of Women Voters of Colorado and former state Rep. Kathleen Curry of Gunnison, who left the Democratic Party in 2009 to become unaffiliated. They are part of a bipartisan coalition called Fair Districts Colorado.