Support for Initiatives 95 and 96

Posted on January 22, 2018

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Colorado Common Cause believes that the goal of redistricting should be to draw districts that fairly represent the interests of the communities in the state. Such districts should not be drawn to advantage incumbents or to favor any particular party. The best way to accomplish this goal in Colorado is through an independent commission process that is transparent, accessible to, and inclusive of, Colorado citizens.

Initiatives 95 and 96 will create independent citizen redistricting commissions empowered to draw legislative and congressional district lines to achieve fair and equal representation for all citizens of Colorado. Colorado Common Cause supports these measures because they are in line with our principles for redistricting reform and improve our current redistricting systems.

Commission appointments are not made by politicians

For commissions tasked with redistricting to effectively represent the people of Colorado, not the political parties, their members must be selected by people other than politicians and political partisans. Crucial to our support is the independence of the commissions created by these Initiatives. Both the separate legislative and congressional commissions will consist of members who are chosen either by random lottery, or by appointment by the Chief Judge of the Colorado Court of Appeals. This is a significant improvement from the current system in Colorado.

Commission appointments reflect Colorado’s political diversity

Initiatives 95 and 96 require, for the first time in Colorado redistricting, that the commissions must have equal representation of Republican, Democratic and Unaffiliated members.

Commission appointments reflect Colorado’s racial, gender, and geographic diversity

Initiatives 95 and 96 require that the appointments to the commissions reflect the state’s diversity. The appointments made by the Chief Judge will be done for the sole purpose of enhancing the commissions’ racial and gender diversity and assuring representation of all of the state’s existing congressional districts on the commission. This mandate is an important reform of the current Colorado process.

Qualifications for commissioners

The Initiatives contemplate a robust application process for those wishing to serve on a commission. That process eliminates individuals who have conflicts of interest or blatant partisan interests, including professional lobbyists, candidates for any office that is the subject of the commission the applicant would serve on, paid campaign workers, and anyone who in the last five years has been an elected political party official, or has held elected public office. These new limitations are critical to insuring the commissions are independent and that new district lines are drawn for the benefit of all Coloradans.

Commission meetings and deliberations are fully transparent

Initiatives 95 and 96 require the commissions’ compliance with Colorado’s Open Meetings and Open Records laws, with no exceptions. Colorado Common Cause has long supported open and accessible meetings. Only commissions and processes that meet these transparency standards can guarantee that all Colorado residents can participate and have a voice in the process of redistricting.

Commissions provide ample opportunities for citizen engagement

Initiatives 95 and 96 will also give any Colorado resident the opportunity to present maps to the commissions for consideration. There are specific requirements for hearings throughout the state and that access be provided electronically, as well as in person. The commissions will have websites and the ability for Coloradans to post comments and engage with the commissions. Outreach to all communities is the only means to ensure meaningful participation.

Standards for drawing lines will promote effective representation and competitive districts

The primary criteria for drawing districts is prioritizing communities of interest that need representation. Strong consideration of communities of interest is a core value of redistricting reform that we endorse. It is also absent from the current redistricting process, except as and to the extent it can be considered after other factors. The protection of communities of interest is important to assure fair representation of all citizens in Colorado. There is also a clear definition of competitiveness in these Initiatives that requires that districts not be drawn to protect incumbents or to favor any political party.

Colorado Common Cause is committed to a democracy that reflects our communities and we believe these proposals will move all of us to that goal.

Office: Colorado Common Cause

Issues: Voting and Elections

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