Redistricting & The 2010 Census
Many state legislatures are currently engaged in partisan battles over redistricting prior to the 2010 headcount. Colorado’s Aurora Sentinel reports:
Colorado has never had a shortage of embarrassing moments under the Gold Dome. The Legislature has tried to legislate the slander of vegetables, granted state residents permission to remove tags from pillows and furniture, and make it easier to carry a concealed weapon than it is to rent a car. But lawmakers may at least ward the next embarrassing gaffe off by changing the way the state draws boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts.
State Rep. Mike May, R-Parker, is proposing the state create a single bipartisan panel that has a tie-splitting independent voter to keep things fair.
Republicans have nothing to lose by the change — this time.
In Montana, similar arguments are now dominating the state legislature. Here’s what the Flathead Beacon has to say about redistricting:
HELENA – Even lawmakers’ first steps to begin the once-a-decade process of carving new legislative districts wear the marks of the bitter partisanship that often characterized the process in the past.
Republicans on Thursday released names of their candidates for the commission charged with redrawing legislative districts to reflect new census numbers. And — surprise — all four turned out to be Republicans. Democrats, if history is any indication, almost certainly will pick party stalwarts for their appointments, as well.
This time GOP leaders have thrown a new twist into the process, with a dedicated e-mail for receiving public comment on their candidates. Senate Majority Leader Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, said the goal is to be more “open and transparent,” but Democrats think otherwise and have no plans to do the same.
“It could get to be a partisan sort of wrangling and that’s not what the commission is supposed to do,” said Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams, D-Missoula, careful to note that she finds all the Republican nominees well-qualified.
State law says Republican and Democratic leadership in the Legislature each may select two commissioners. Those four then are to agree on a fifth member, the chairman. If the appointees deadlock on choosing the tie-breaking chairman, then a decision rests with the Montana Supreme Court.
“I was hopeful the last go round that the four would be able to agree on a chairman,” said retired Chief Justice Karla Gray, who served on the court when it nominated the swing vote in 1999. “I don’t think it’s a responsibility that the court looks forward to, but perhaps that’s just my opinion.”
Stalemates have forced the court to appoint the chairman for bickering lawmakers in three of the four most recent redistricting efforts. And those appointments have in turn led to more partisan bickering, spawning bitter charges of gerrymandering that reverberate for years.