Draw the map: how you can join Colorado's independent redistricting commission

Unite Colorado
September 17, 2020

In 2018, Coloradans did something remarkable: we passed independent redistricting commissions

Independent redistricting commissions give citizens a voice in the mapmaking process of districts - making them fair and representative of the people served. These congressional maps are drawn after the census to determine districts for both state and federal seats. 

Following the passage of Amendments Y and Z, Colorado will have both federal and state lines drawn by an independent redistricting commission. For the first time ever, there will be a transparent redistricting process with a clearly defined standard for how congressional maps are drawn. Independent redistricting commissions have the power to draw these maps in a politically-independent manner.


How did Colorado do it?

Every ten years, the U.S Census is conducted and the U.S Congress reapportions the number of congressional seats for each state based on population. Before 2018, the state legislature had to divide the state into these congressional districts, meaning politicians were drawing the legislative maps for the very districts they sought to represent. In other words, politicians were choosing their voters. 

But if the mapmaking process was not completed during the legislative session after the census, as often happened, state courts were left to draw the maps. (This occurred the last four times there has been congressional redistricting). With the passage of Amendment Y, the authority to draw congressional district maps is given to the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission. 

In 2018, there was also the passage of Amendment Z. Prior to this, state legislative districts were drawn by the Colorado Reapportionment Commission every ten years, after the U.S Census was conducted - in 1974 voters approved its creation. This reapportionment commission consisted of 11 members, 6 of whom were required by law to be affiliated with the same political party. The commission drafted preliminary maps for the state senate and house districts, but the final maps had to be supported by the majority of commissioners. Following this, the Colorado Supreme Court had to give approval. The state legislative districts are now drawn by the Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, as Amendment Z replaced the reapportionment commission. 

On December 15, 2021, the Colorado Supreme Court must approve a congressional redistricting map and order the approved map be filed with the Secretary of State.


So what’s next?

Now, you have the chance to be involved in the mapmaking process! Coloradans can serve on Colorado’s first-ever independent redistricting commission; all you need to do is apply! The commission must have 12 members - at least one member in each current congressional district and from the Western slope. As best they can, each commission must represent Colorado’s racial, ethnic, gender, and geographic diversity.  

So what are you waiting for? Colorado decided voters should come first and said yes to fair maps. Join this commission today to help get rid of partisan deal-making and ensure the citizens of Colorado’s interests are coming first, not the politicians. 

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