Colorado congressional redistribution: Latino advocates, others oppose map at state Supreme Court


The state Supreme Court accepts challenges to Colorado’s new congressional electoral map this week. At least two groups say they will raise concerns about the map, which was drawn by the state’s first independent redistribution commission.

Among the claims: that it does not adequately represent Latinos and other minority groups and dilutes their voices.

The independent redistribution commission sent the map to the Supreme Court on October 1 for review. The court has until November 1 to approve it, or the card goes back to the commission. In the meantime, the court will assess whether the independent commission correctly fulfilled all the constitutional criteria of the final map and take into account legal challenges from groups unhappy with the outcome.

If the judges reject the card, the commission will meet again to attempt to resolve the court’s issues.

Latino groups say commission neglected their community

CLLARO, the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization, is a group that opposes the map as it is drawn. He said the map does not adequately represent the Latin American community.

“This is an incredibly disappointing result for Colorado Latinos, communities of interest and Colorado voters as a whole,” said a written statement from the organization. The group argued that the card did not meet the criteria the commission was supposed to follow, put in place by voters statewide in 2018.

“Voters were crystal clear in 2018: Communities of interest must be preserved and prioritized. It is remarkable that the Commission did not take into account the will of the voters by favoring an objective of arbitrary competitiveness over communities of interest.

The new congressional map is largely modeled after Colorado’s current boundaries, but some groups like CLLARO and the only non-vote on the map, Democratic Commissioner Simon Tafoya, have pleaded for a southern Colorado congressional district. They say the commission has prioritized competitiveness over communities of interest.

Colorado Independent District Commission
The latest Congressional Redistribution Map submitted by the Colorado Independent Redistribution Commission.

The League of United Latin American Citizens will also file a brief with the court outlining the concerns, which also concern the southern part of the state.

“There is a large Latino population in southern Colorado, San Luis Valley, Pueblo, Southern Colorado Springs,” said Mark Gaber, director of redistribution at the Campaign Legal Center and representative of LULAC.

“It’s not just a question of how many Latinos in a district, but it’s an analysis of the election results to see if these show Latino voters as well as some white voters who support choice Latino candidates. , if they would be able to merge together and elect their preferred candidates.

As it stands, the southern region of the state would be in a safe Republican neighborhood.

Gaber also has issues with the newly established 8th Congressional District north of Denver. It’s almost 40 percent Latino and would be the only competitive seat.

“Achieving the goal of competitiveness by creating the most predominantly Latino district, the one where white Republican voters are most likely to elect their candidate in that district, is essentially the definition of Latin vote dilution.”

Colorado’s eight seats could be split evenly between Democrats and GOP

Politically, the map creates four Democratic seats, three Republicans, and a swing district – the eighth – that leans slightly to the left. The limits give all current members of Congress in Colorado a strong chance to retain their seats.

The map Tafoya envisioned had five Democratic seats and three Republican seats. Before voting to approve a map, the commissioners were locked into a lengthy discussion about how best to represent rural Colorado, ensure representation of different racial and ethnic communities, and take into account the political interests of the ‘State.

“I cannot advance a card that does not have a single competitive district,” said unaffiliated commissioner Lori Schell.

Some Democrats may be thinking about what could have been. If voters had not approved an independent commission, Democrats would have been tasked with drawing new political lines as this party controls the state legislature and the governor’s office, which is how electoral maps are drawn. in most other states. But other progressives think having an independent commission was worth it.

“As a partisan agent, would I have liked six secure Democratic seats? Of course, ”said Democratic political strategist Ian Silverii.

“In terms of realistic outcomes that honored the state constitution, respected communities of interest and created a fair map. I think it’s getting pretty close.

Former Republican State House Speaker Frank McNulty, who has advocated for the new process, said after seeing the commission’s final map that he was grateful that the state’s new congressional district was ” very competitive ”.

Despite a few tense moments and accusations, the commissioners all praised the months-long process it took to come up with a final map, which was based on a plan by non-partisan staff that relied on feedback. public.

“I feel like I’m part of a community,” said unaffiliated commissioner Jolie Brawner. “And by reading all the comments, over 5,000 of them, I would continue to read them. I think it was so amazing how involved everyone was in this process. And I think it was really fantastic that we got to be a part of that first group that had the audience more involved in this process than they’ve ever been before.

The commission, made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated voters approved the 11-1 card after six rounds of voting.

Even Gaber said that despite his concerns, he had no problem with the functioning of the commission.

“The fact that there were so many hearings across the state and it was so easy to provide a public contribution is fantastic, and Colorado’s constitution sets clear guidelines for the commission to follow. . “

Congress District Map Drawing Criteria

Neighborhoods must:

  • Have an equal population, justifying every variance, regardless of size, as required by the Constitution of the United States;
  • Be made up of contiguous geographic areas;
  • Comply with the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended;
  • Preserving entire communities of interest and entire political subdivisions, such as counties, towns and villages;
  • Be as compact as is reasonably possible; and
  • Maximize the number of politically competitive districts.

Districts cannot be drawn for the purpose of:

  • Protect the incumbents or declared candidates of the United States House of Representatives or any political party; Where
  • Denying or restricting the right to vote of any citizen because of their race or membership of a linguistic minority group, including diluting the impact of the electoral influence of this racial or linguistic minority group.

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