Redistricting panel sends state House, Senate maps to Supreme Court for review
Plans would likely preserve Democratic statehouse majorities
The Colorado State Capitol Building. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)
Colorado’s first-ever Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission voted this week to send final plans for new General Assembly districts to the state Supreme Court for review.
The commission voted unanimously on Tuesday night to approve a new district map for the Colorado Senate, one day after approving a plan for the state House of Representatives on an 11-1 vote.
Together, the plans draw new boundaries for 65 House and 35 Senate districts, beginning with the 2022 election and lasting for 10 years. Based on the results of recent elections, they would be expected to preserve solid Democratic majorities in both chambers, according to data compiled by the commission’s nonpartisan staff.
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Commission chair Carlos Perez, a software engineer from Colorado Springs and an unaffiliated voter, said the panel’s work demonstrated “how ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.”
“My goal was to ensure that the inaugural commission will become the gold standard for independent redistricting commissions in the nation,” Perez said after Tuesday night’s final vote. “I believe we have accomplished that goal.”
Commissioners reached a consensus on the new Senate map in a virtual meeting on Tuesday in spite of an initial disagreement between commissioners over how to draw the boundaries of several districts in Adams and Weld counties. It was an impasse that commissioner John Buckley, a Colorado Springs attorney and Republican, said “seemed impossible” to resolve.
“We got it done,” Buckley said. “We got a map. We worked together. Respectfully, to those (at) the legislature, on both sides, I think we set an example.”
The commission’s legal staff will formally file the two plans with the Supreme Court on Friday, after which the court will accept briefs from “all interested parties” wishing to weigh in on the plans.
Last month, the state’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission voted to approve its final plan for submission to the court. The two commissions are the first of their kind to oversee the once-a-decade redistricting process in Colorado following voter approval of anti-gerrymandering measures Amendments Y and Z in 2018.
Under the amendments, volunteer commissioners were selected through a multistep process that included review by a panel of retired judges and a random drawing, and they are tasked with working with state staff to draw maps that satisfy a range of criteria, including preserving “communities of interest” and “maximiz(ing) the number of politically competitive districts.”
The Colorado Supreme Court will accept briefs regarding the commission’s plans until Oct. 22, and is expected to rule on whether to approve the maps or return them to the commission for revisions by Nov. 15.
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