What HB21-1047 means for CO

Unite Colorado
May 19, 2021

Asking politicians to draw their own maps is like asking a gambler to shuffle the deck. They might do it fairly, but probably not. More likely than not, they’ll stack the deck in their favor. 

For most of our state’s history, handing the cards over to the gambler was exactly how our legislative maps were drawn. The state legislature would draw the maps, carving up the very same electorate that would eventually (re)elect them. 

But in 2016, Coloradan put an end to this practice of gerrymandering. With Amendments Y and Z, passed by ballot initiative, Colorado vested the power to draw both state and federal legislative maps in the hands of an independent redistricting commission. For the first time ever, Coloradans have seen the independent redistricting commission take shape, as they work to solicit public input ahead of launching the maps that will be announced later this year. 

Amendments Y and Z were huge steps forward in the state’s effort to ending partisan gerrymandering and making sure that voters — not politicians — were put first. No longer will Coloradans have to worry about shady backroom deals designed to help put political parties on top in the statehouse or US Capitol. Instead, maps are created by regular citizens on behalf of regular citizens. 

Of course, Y and Z didn’t solve everything. County commissioners  — the people who oversee the legislating at a county level — were left vulnerable to partisan gerrymandering. Much like at the state level, county commission districts could be carved up to give one political party an upper hand. The districts are smaller, but the impact is the same: more power for politicians at the expense of representation for voters. 

Enter HB21-1047

Introduced by Representative Chris Kennedy and Senator Pete Lee, HB1047 seeks to advance fair redistricting in the state, recommending that counties establish independent redistricting commissions to ensure fair maps, applying many of the same requirements commissioners have at the state and federal level to the county level as well. 

Coloradans had already made their opinion known: they want fair maps that put voters first. 

Coloradans had already made their opinion known: they want fair maps that put voters first. 

Luckily, the legislature listened. HB21-1047 passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law on April 29th.

Colorado continues to lead the nation, showing how nonpartisan reform can benefit all voters in all elections.

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