Colorado scored above average nationally for a transparent and inclusive process
DENVER — Today, Common Cause, the leading anti-gerrymandering group, published a report grading the redistricting process in all 50 states from the view of the community. The comprehensive report evaluates public access, outreach, and education in each state based on an analysis of more than 120 detailed surveys and more than 60 interviews.
Colorado scored above average compared to other states across the nation: a B. The report found Colorado’s two independent redistricting commissions produced overall accessible, and participatory processes, with more than 5,000 public comments and 170 proposed maps submitted. This cycle marked the first time independent redistricting commissions were used to draw congressional and state legislative lines in Colorado, and advocates found that, although imperfect, the use of an independent process was a step in the right direction for fair representation.
In particular, the report highlights how Colorado can further improve its redistricting process. Colorado’s maps were ultimately held back by the use of estimated data, bad timing for public hearings, and a failure to prioritize creating a majority-Latinx district. By investing in stronger public engagement efforts and by focusing on drawing districts that protect communities of color, Colorado can ensure that redistricting works for all of the state’s diverse communities.
“After a close look at all 50 states, this report shows more community voices produce better maps,” said Dan Vicuña, Common Cause national redistricting director. “When everyone can meaningfully participate and have their input reflected in the final maps, that’s how we achieve fair elections voters can trust. We found voting districts that prioritize community interests are the gateway to elections that lead to strong schools, a fair economy, and affordable healthcare.”
Common Cause graded each state for its state-level redistricting. Some states received a second grade for their local redistricting process in cases where advocates provided data. Each interview and survey asked participants about the accessibility of the process, the role of community groups, the organizing landscape, and the use of communities of interest criteria.
“Redistricting is only successful when we the people have influence over our own voting districts,” said Aly Belknap, Colorado Common Cause’s executive director. “Redistricting determines the kind of leaders we elect, and how well they represent our views in Denver and Washington. While Colorado did a great job at engaging the public and recognizing our communities, there is still more work to be done. We must go further and ensure that moving forward, Colorado fully invests in public engagement efforts and uplifts the voices of communities of color in the redistricting process.”
Common Cause found the most powerful reform is independent, citizen-led commissions where voters—rather than elected officials—administer the process and hold the power of the pen to draw maps. Independent commissioners were found to be more interested in fair representation and community input— rather than electability or party control. Colorado Common Cause is proud to have helped lead the effort to create these independent commissions, which received approval from 71% of Colorado voters in 2018.
The report was authored by Common Cause, Fair Count, State Voices, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
The report was published in collaboration with the Coalition Hub for Advancing Redistricting and Grassroots Engagement (CHARGE), which includes Common Cause, Fair Count, League of Women Voters, Mia Familia Vota, NAACP, NCAI, State Voices, APIAVote, and the Center for Popular Democracy.