DENVER (AP) – Colorado’s independent congressional redistribution commission has entered the home stretch by creating a map for the next decade that incorporates a new eighth district and tries to keep communities of interest, such as Hispanic and Latino voters intact, and urban and rural economic interests. That and avoiding dividing cities and counties into separate districts headlined the committee’s discussions on Wednesday.
It could also keep the number of competitive districts to a minimum, thanks to the state’s political geography with its concentration of urban voters from the Front Range and more conservative rural areas to the east, west and south.
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The new eighth district, according to the latest non-partisan personnel map submitted on September 15, runs along I-25 corridor north of Denver and veers northeast to Greeley. Based on past election results, it could be Colorado’s most competitive district. Staff plan to submit another card this week, which will be presented to the panel on Friday.
“We have done it the right way,” said Commissioner Danny Moore. “We shouldn’t dictate the number of competitive districts.”
Republicans currently hold three seats – in the 3rd and 4th rural Congressional Districts and in the conservative county of El Paso. Democrats hold four, one based in Denver and three centered in largely suburban neighborhoods.
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Commissioners discussed a number of potential changes on Wednesday, including keeping more of the suburb of Douglas County as an urban district and ensuring the Roaring Fork Valley is intact. Commissioner Lori Smith Schell said a subcommittee had so far reviewed 116 of 162 maps submitted by the public and hoped to complete this work soon.
Commissioners have a September 28 deadline to approve a card and must submit it to the state Supreme Court by October 1.
Final approval by the 12-member commission requires at least eight “yes” votes, including two unaffiliated commissioners. If the commission does not submit a final card next week, a staff card must be submitted, without changes, for judicial review. The court must approve a congressional redistribution map by December 15, 2021.
In 2018, voters approved a voting measure to hand control of the redistribution to a non-partisan commission that does not include lawmakers. The vote removed the task of making the process less partisan from lawmakers, political parties and the governor.
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