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opinion

Coward: Follow the Constitution for redistricting

Posted 3/31/21

Some are advancing the argument that the 2010 process was flawed because it emphasized “competitiveness.” This is a false argument used to undermine the integrity of the work of the 2011 …

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opinion

Coward: Follow the Constitution for redistricting

Posted

Some are advancing the argument that the 2010 process was flawed because it emphasized “competitiveness.” This is a false argument used to undermine the integrity of the work of the 2011 redistricting commission and perpetuates the idea that the 2011 district maps were unfairly drawn to benefit Democrats because competitiveness was considered.

Competitiveness is named last because in order to assess the competitiveness of a district partisan data must be added back in. Partisan data must initially be excluded — specifically required by the constitution (Proposition 106) at the beginning of the process.

There are federal standards — equal population and voting rights act are above all others. The remaining four state criteria have equal weight. These include:

  • Compactness and contiguity;
  •  Communities of interest;
  • Geographic features (county, city, and other district lines), political boundaries and census tracts; and
  • Competitiveness.

The 2021 commission is tasked with weighing these criteria appropriately for the area. What is appropriate for Tucson may not be appropriate for Yuma. What best suits Yuma may not be well suited for Prescott. Or Flagstaff. Or Phoenix.

The 2021 commission will be wading into the danger zone if they try to create a one-size-fits-all matrix or false standard of what is more important, or less important, as it suits their perceived partisan interests.

On the new 2021 IRC website, the “Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission Legal Overview,” July 8, 2011, is posted. It states: “In Arizona Minority Coalition, the Arizona Supreme Court suggested that the IRC’s advertised map should make adjustments for all six of the goals specified in subsections 1(14)(A) through (F), rather than addressing the sixth and final goal of competitiveness only after receiving public comment on the first advertised map, as the IRC did in 2002.

The bottom line: Do not give short shrift to any one of the six criteria. Carefully assess the relative value of each criteria in each district/region, including competitiveness.

Editor’s note: David Coward is a resident of Gold Canyon.

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