The Colorado Redistricting Process
by Delta County GOP Chairman Dave Bradford
I have written several times now on the Colorado Redistricting Process. As I have said before this is currently the most pressing local political issue for Delta County voters. So I am making a last call to ask that all of you please send in comments. This is the best opportunity to influence the Redistricting Commissions to create fair and representative Congressional and Legislative Districts for the residents of Delta County. I believe this is essential after the gerrymandering spree that constituted the 2010 redistricting.
Based on the Calendar published by the Redistricting Commission, there are three more public hearings left, with the last hearing scheduled for August 28, 2021 in Colorado Springs. I believe we need to all get our comments in to the Commissions by that date – August 28, 2021. At that point the Commissions and the Redistricting Staffs will issue new maps, based on the final submission of the 2020 Census data and input from the public comments and hearings. The first staff map for congressional districts, using 2020 census data, will be released Sept. 5 and presented to the congressional commission on Sept. 6 (Labor Day). The first legislative staff maps will be released Sept. 13 and presented to the legislative commission on Sept. 14.
The criteria used to establish the Congressional and Legislative Districts are:
1) Districts must have equal populations, within a small percentage.
2) Districts must be composed of contiguous geographic areas.
3) Districts must comply with the federal voting rights act of 1965[i].
4) Districts must preserve whole communities of interest and political subdivisions.
5) Districts must be as compact as reasonably possible.
6) Districts must thereafter maximize the number of politically competitive districts.
There are lots of politics going on with the Redistricting. The Democrats are now complaining that the passage of Amendments Y and Z in 2018 has really hurt the Democrats chances to create Congressional and Legislative Districts that favor the Democrats. Since they now hold the Governorship and both Houses in the Legislature, they could have created Districts that were gerrymandered much worse than the ridiculous 2010 Districts. So now they are trying to influence the Redistricting Commissions by claiming the proposed maps are violating the 1965 Voting Rights Act by splitting communities of people of color and hurting their chances to be fairly represented. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. I do know that that is exactly what happened in 2010 with Delta County and the Legislative House District 61and what will happen again if Delta County is split in both the Legislative House and Senate Districts. A note of concern, there are even folks in Delta County willing to accept splitting Delta County. This attitude is wrong and only harms our ability to be fully and fairly represented in the state Legislature. KEEP DELTA COUNTY WHOLE!
The input from the Democrats needs to be countered, so I’ll repeat my plea from my last Blog - Please make a comment to the Redistricting Commissions. If we can get CD3 locked into the current configuration, and Delta County kept in one district and included with Mesa County for both the Senate and House seats, we will be better represented in the State Legislature for the next ten years. The last 10 years have been terrible for Delta County as Kerry Donovan and Julie McCluskey (and Millie Hamner before her) have done nothing positive for Delta County residents and helped pass numerous harmful pieces of legislation. The website, https://redistricting.colorado.gov, has a portal for making comments. It also has more information about the process. Please let the Commissions know we need to be kept whole and with Mesa County. The Commissions are accepting comments until the last hearing, which is scheduled for August 28, 2021. This is the last call to help make a difference!
PS – A note of caution, one of our Committee members, Penny Sutton PCP for Precinct 19, sent her comments in early, hand written through the Post Office. Her letter was returned as Undeliverable. Penny contacted the Redistricting Office and found that she had used the correct address. No idea why it was returned. So it is probably best to use the email portal on the Redistricting website, especially as it is getting so late. I just checked the Redistricting website and found the following in their contact us section, “Please do not mail things to our mailing address as the post office returns thing sent to us more than half the time. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, but we have been unable to fix the problem.” Write soon and write electronically!
[i] The Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The act banned the use of literacy tests, provided for federal oversight of voter registration in areas where less than 50 percent of the non-white population had not registered to vote, and authorized the U.S. attorney general to investigate the use of poll taxes in state and local elections. Since its passage, the Voting Rights Act has been amended to include such features as the protection of voting rights for non-English speaking American citizens.