Tips For Analyzing Redistricting Maps
We’re in the final few weeks of Colorado’s redistricting process, and there are just a couple opportunities left to share feedback on the maps that will define our political districts and determine every Colorado community’s resources for the next decade. You can submit public comments on both the Congressional map and the State House and Senate maps up until they finalize them. This an incredibly important time to make your voice heard!
The redistricting commissions need to hear from experts like you, who live, work, and learn across the state. They need to hear whether the maps they’ve drawn do a good job of keeping your community together–which is constitutionally mandated–or whether they’ve split your community up.
Why is it important for communities to be kept together? Perhaps your local school district is in dire need of additional funding to add classrooms and teachers to handle an expanded population.The General Assembly receives federal funding that goes down to school districts, state Representatives and Senators will decide where this money goes. Your community needs to appeal to their representatives for these funds. If your community is split among three different districts, your influence is significantly diluted, reducing your chances of successfully advocating for these funds. Or you may live in a predominantly Latino community that has shared policy concerns around transportation, you want your neighborhood to be less polluted by traffic on freeways and roads. The district lines split you into three separate districts where the majority of voters in your district do not share this concern. Your community’s influence will be diluted. Communities with shared policy concerns – like transportation and air quality – are considered communities of interest. The state constitution requires that the commissions draw districts that allow our communities to have a say in the policies that affect their everyday lives. Each Commission is made up of 12 people, it is impossible for 12 people to know everything about the entire state – that is why they need your input to ensure communities stay intact.
The draft maps may look overwhelming at first, but you can become a fair districting map expert in a few easy steps!
- STEP 1: Open the interactive maps (Links: Congressional, State Senate, State House).
- STEP 2: Zoom in on your community
- STEP 3: Turn on (and off) the layers you find most useful. If you want to see the racial breakdown you can turn ON demographics so you can view the concentration of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to ensure their interests are prioritized. Keeping district lines ON will help you see where the boundaries have been drawn and what they might carve up or keep together. You can also turn on County lines to see which counties are broken up and kept together.
- STEP 4: Look for the hubs of your community–the places you learn, shop, worship, and recreate. Are those in your district?
- STEP 5: Think about the most important policy priorities for your community, whether that’s affordable housing, transportation, education, health care, air pollution, or something else. Are all your neighbors that share those priorities within your district so you can vote together to do something about it?
Congratulations! You’re now a fair districting analyst. What did you learn? Do you like how your district is drawn or are there things you would change about it? It’s time to speak up for fair maps.
You have the opportunity to submit written comments to both the congressional and legislative Commissions until the maps are finalized at the end of the month.
Effective comments that will get the commission’s attention:
- Focus on your community or neighborhood and issues that are a matter of legislative action (e.g. school funding, affordable housing, etc.)
- Establish a clear community of interest (e.g. “I am part of X community and we are all connected by A, B, and C”)
- Make specific recommendations (e.g. “The eastern border should be moved five blocks to Columbine Street”)
- Be specific about what boundaries define the community, including street names and landmarks
- Protect BIPOC voters
- Be in line with constitutional requirements for districts (e.g. comply with the Voting Rights Act, create compact districts, etc.)
Comments that reference having partisan interests, wanting to protect candidates or incumbents, or suggest reprioritizing the constitutionally-mandated priorities will be dismissed.
Questions? We’d love to hear from you! Please let us know how we can support you in making your voice heard for fair maps. Fair maps make communities stronger!