The 2008 Colorado Ballot

Amendments Y & Z


First off, this is by far one of the most politically contentious issues the legislature faces. You not only can define districts to strongly favor a party, but the individual legislators can define them to protect their own set, or the office they next want to go to. Political partisanship and self interest can make this a gigantic cluster.

So first off, it speaks well of our legislators that they did something that never makes the news, they worked together and came up with an improved system they could all support.

In the 2010 reapportionment the state districts were handled by an independent commission, and it did a good job. The congressional districts were started in the legislature and it ended up a mess finally being drawn under court order.

Vote YES! Vote Yes

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this is the worst way to handle redistricting, except for all the others. (Churchill said this about democracy.)

Arguments Against

It is a fair argument that the elected legislators should handle a fundamentally political decision like this themselves.

Arguments For

What they did here is learned from how the state level commission worked, improved it based on experience (Amendment Z) and then set up the same thing for the congressional districts (Amendment Y).

One very good improvement is before there was a laundry list of unprioritized criteria to use when setting the districts, which also had the effect of people finding an excuse in that list for anything they wanted to do. Now it's a shot list with very clear priorities. And one of those priorities is to maximize the number of competitive districts.

The process will be imperfect. It still comes down to human decisions. But it builds on a successdful system further improving it.

In state after state, including Colorado (state level districts), a well designed independent commission has delivered the best results.



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