Opposition to Colorado Ballot Initiatives 48 & 50

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  • Caroline Fry

Colorado Common Cause believes that the current processes in Colorado for redistricting and reapportionment require reform, so the people of Colorado can have a meaningful choice in electing their leaders, elected leaders are responsive and accountable to the needs of their constituents, and the processes are transparent and inclusive, fully reflecting the diversity of the state.

While we share the stated goals of Fair Districts Colorado to “take map drawing out of the hands of political insiders and shine a light on the redistricting process by creating a more open, public process”, Initiatives #48 and #50 do not achieve those goals.
Independence of the Commissions: Although the commissions are referred to as “independent”, the measures give extraordinary power to Colorado’s major political parties to make the majority of the appointments to the commissions.  Even the members of the commissions who are not affiliated with an appointing political party, called “independent members” in the initiatives’ language, are subject to a process for selection that is wholly partisan. The party appointees have the ultimate say as to which independents can serve.  In addition, there are a limited number of factors that disqualify an individual from serving on either commission.  The fact that someone may have been a lobbyist, a party operative, a paid congressional or legislative staff member, or a candidate for office, does not disqualify them from serving on the commissions.

Transparency:  Initiatives 48 and 50 block the public from access to draft maps, unless they are ultimately made public at a public meeting.  For the public to have a meaningful opportunity to provide feedback and offer alternatives, there should be full access to the maps that are being considered. The measures also allow up to 3 commissioners to discuss commission business together, without that discussion being a public meeting.

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. For redistricting to be successful and for there to be public trust in the process, the decision makers—with respect to the policy and on the commissions—should reflect a broad range of viewpoints and be representative of the full diversity of the state’s population.

Colorado Common Cause believes there is a great opportunity to address redistricting reform and looks forward to working with those who are interested in true reform policies—including those who currently support Initiatives 48 and 50 as well as those who are opposed—to develop proposals that will work for Colorado.

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