A view of the U.S. Capitol in April 2012. (Architect of the Capitol)
A new set of Colorado congressional districts was adopted by an independent panel Tuesday night minutes before deadline. The map now goes to the state Supreme Court for approval.
The map includes an eighth district, added to Colorado’s previous seven following a decade of population growth. The map features three safe Democratic districts, three safe Republican districts and two districts that lean Democratic but are within reach for Republicans.
The state’s current congressional delegation features a 4-3 split in favor of Democrats.
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Every 10 years, based on updated census data, states have the opportunity to redraw the boundaries of districts for members of Congress and members of the Colorado Legislature. In 2018, Coloradans voted to implement two amendments — Y and Z — focused on reforming the way the state conducts legislative and congressional redistricting. The amendments created two independent commissions tasked with redrawing the state’s political maps in a way that focuses on fairness and minimizes the potential for gerrymandering.
The congressional commission is due to submit its final map to the Colorado Supreme Court by Friday. The legislative commission, which has yet to approve a final map for state House and Senate districts, is due to submit its final map to the court by Oct. 15.
The final congressional map was an amended version of a map drawn by redistricting commission staff and released last week. It puts the 8th District on the Front Range north of Denver up to and including Greeley. It’s the most competitive of the eight districts, with Democrats having just a slight advantage based on previous elections in the state going back to 2016 — over the course of eight recent elections, Democrats received an average of 1.3% more votes than Republicans in what would be the new 8th District. The 7th District, currently represented by Democrat Ed Perlmutter, would be the next most competitive. Democrats received an average of 6.9% more votes than Republicans in what would be the new 7th District.
However, many observers see the map as an advantage for Republicans in a blue state that went for President Joe Biden over former President Donald Trump by more than 13 points. And some advocates, such as the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization, or CLLARO, said the map “dilutes minority votes.”
“This is an incredibly disappointing outcome for Colorado Latinos, communities of interest, and Colorado voters as a whole,” CLLARO said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s remarkable that the Commission disregarded the will of the voters by prioritizing an arbitrary competitiveness target over communities of interest.”
The commission, which comprises four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated members, approved the plan 11-1. The commission needed to achieve a supermajority of eight votes for plan approval, without which the third staff plan would have been sent to the Supreme Court by default.
The court is expected to issue an opinion on the plan by Nov. 1.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:19 p.m., Sept. 29, 2021, to add more detail about partisan voting patterns in the new 7th and 8th districts and to add remarks from CLLARO.
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