On October 17, 2017, Colorado Common Cause announced its opposition to Initiatives 48 and 50, on the grounds that the measures did not create independent commissions, the processes for the commissions’ activities were not sufficiently transparent, and the Fair Districts Colorado campaign had not done adequate stakeholder work to create a campaign that was inclusive and representative of the diversity of Colorado.
Fair Districts Colorado has stated that the revised Initiatives 67, 68, and 69 are responsive to criticisms about the previous drafts; however, the revised measures do not address any of our concerns. Colorado Common Cause opposes these measures.
Independence of the Commissions: The revised measures continue the partisan selection process for the majority of the commission. Instead of party chairs making the selection of major party representatives on the commissions, it is legislative party leadership that does so. This still results in partisan dominated commissions. Further, the addition of a requirement of an application with no change in the factors that would disqualify an individual from serving on the commission is mere window dressing.
While the measures do include a more neutral selection process for the unaffiliated or independent members, that change is not enough to eliminate the overall partisan selection process of the majority of the members. In addition, because the independent commissioners are selected only after the party appointments are made, the choices for independent commissioners are more limited than those made by the parties, because of the need to fill various geographic requirements that might not be met by the party appointments. This means the independent commissioners must fill in those gaps, rather than be unconstrained in the range of appointments.
Transparency: Transparency in redistricting is essential to public trust in the outcome. Meetings of decision-makers, among themselves or with legal and mapping consultants, must be open and accessible to the public. Initiatives 67, 68 and 69 continue to block the public from access to certain draft maps, continue to permit up to 3 commissioners to meet in private, and continue to allow the commissioners to cancel the map drawing process and move to a final vote, regardless of public input or opportunity for public comment.
Neither the original Initiatives (48 and 50), nor these revised Initiatives (67, 68 and 69) have provided for full access by the public to the process. Until such access is assured, Colorado Common Cause cannot support any redistricting proposal.
Communities Consulted: There has been virtually no discussion of these proposals with communities of color in Colorado, and no one from those communities has been present at the negotiating table. Individuals and organizations representing the Latinx community, the African American community and others have not had a voice in looking at these proposals.
Public confidence in redistricting requires full participation, not only on the commissions, but in the determination of the policy itself. Fair Districts Colorado does not currently reflect that broad range of viewpoints, nor is it representative of the full diversity of the state’s population. If Fair Districts Colorado wants to develop policies that really work for Colorado, there needs to be a more inclusive, more considered, and deliberate conversation among all interested communities in the state.
Office: Colorado Common Cause