Arizona’s current system relies on an independent, bipartisan commission to draw the maps of the districts for US Congress and for our legislature. These maps may seem boring, but they’re actually super important — if they’re drawn unfairly, one party can remain in power no matter which party most people actually vote for.
In many states, Republican-controlled state legislatures have seized control of the process, resulting in strangely-shaped districts (sometimes known as “gerrymandered” districts, because they’re so skinny and oddly-shaped that they look like salamanders). These strangely-shaped districts make it easier for Republicans to get elected over and over, even when voters disapprove of the job they’re doing.
Unlike these other states, Arizona currently relies on an independent, bipartisan commission that helps keep the process fair. In fact, our system is widely considered a national model. But now, Republicans at the state legislature are trying to change that. They want to pass a new bill that would gut our independent commission and make it easier for them, the politicians, to draw their own maps. It’s a naked power grab, and we can’t let them get away with it.
More specifics for people who want specifics: right now, the first 4 members of the redistricting commission are chosen from pools of qualified candidates created by another, separate independent commission, the commission on appellate court appointments. Those first 4 members (typically 2 Dems and 2 Rs) together choose and independent, also from a pool of qualified applicants, to serve as chair. This system provides a buffer and helps ensure that commissioners are independent and not just partisan hacks. The new proposal would make the commissioners chosen directly by legislators themselves, without any buffer to help filter out hacks. More worryingly, the new proposal would change the commission from 5 members (the current set-up) to 8 (3 Dems, 3 Republicans, and 2 “independents”, one chosen by the Democrats in the legislature, one chosen by the Republicans). That means the commission would almost
Contact the Senator in your legislative district now and share this information with your friends and family.
Example Tweet from Progress Now Arizona:
“AZ GOP wants to gut the state’s independent redistricting system. It’s up to us to stop them #AZPowerGrab http://act.progressnowarizona.org/letter/stop-the-az-power-grab/”