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Colorado Common Cause endorses ballot measures to change redistricting procedures

Author: Ernest Luning - January 24, 2018 - Updated: January 24, 2018

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The gold dome of Colorado's state Capitol gleams in the sunlight on May 9, 2016. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)The gold dome of Colorado’s state Capitol gleams in the sunlight on May 9, 2016. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Colorado Common Cause on Tuesday endorsed a pair of proposed ballot initiatives filed by a coalition of left-leaning groups calling itself People Not Politicians that would overhaul how the state draws its political districts.

The ballot measures “will give unaffiliated voters an equal voice in drawing legislative and congressional maps and ensure the process reflects Colorado’s population,” a spokeswoman for Colorado Common Cause said.

Initiatives 95 and 96 approach redistricting differently than proposals promoted by a competing group, Fair Districts Colorado, which also plans to take its initiatives — Nos. 48 and 50 — before voters in November.

“The goal of redistricting should be to draw districts that fairly represent the interests of the communities in the state so we have more representative government that is responsive to Colorado’s needs,” said Elena Nunez, Colorado Common Cause’s executive director, in a statement. “An independent commission should look like Colorado politically, geographically and in population diversity, and act in an open, public process. These measures are in line with our principles for redistricting reform.”

Both sets of proposals lay down rules for establishing legislative and congressional boundaries following the U.S. Census — scheduled to happen before the 2022 election — but they set different rules for qualifying and appointing commission members, as well as different procedures and requirements for the panels.

Under current law, the General Assembly is supposed to draw Colorado’s congressional boundaries once a decade — although the task has regularly fallen to the courts in recent decades — and a commission appointed by various officials is supposed to come up with legislative lines. Both the initiatives sponsored by People Not Politicians and the ones sponsored by Fair Districts Colorado would create separate, independent commissions to do the work.

Hallmarks of the proposals backed by Common Cause include commission members — evenly divided between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated  voters — being chosen by random drawing  or appointed by the chief judge of the Colorado Court of Appeals; commission membership would also reflect the state’s racial, gender, geographic diversity; procedures conducted under Colorado’s open meetings and open records laws; and what backers describe as a “clear definition of competitiveness that prohibits drawing districts to favor incumbents or any single party.”

Read Colorado Common Cause’s detailed statement of support for the measures here.

Organizations that opposed an early proposal by Fair Districts Colorado included the ACLU of Colorado, Mi Familia Vota, the NAACP area conference, One Colorado, Colorado People’s Alliance, COLOR and Servicios De La Raza. The groups haven’t weighed in on either the Fair Districts Colorado or People Not Politicians ballot measures.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.


One comment

  • Connie Baker

    January 25, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Redistricting is a voter manipulation tool. I learned that in 2011, the last time they manipulated voters that didn’t vote Democrat, right out of the County they live in. Every citizen inside of a County of Colorado should be able to vote for the Representatives in their County/State. It is NOT for the “government ” to decide where we can vote for their political parties agenda!!! “The goal of redistricting should be to draw districts that fairly represent the interests of the communities in the state so we have more representative government that is responsive to Colorado’s needs,” said Elena Nunez, Colorado Common Cause’s executive director, in a statement. “An independent commission should look like Colorado politically, geographically and in population diversity, and act in an open, public process. These measures are in line with our principles for redistricting reform.”

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