The consequences of the decennial census are far-reaching, as we’ll see beginning Monday when the state legislature convenes to redistrict U.S. Congressional districts, all state Senate and House districts, and Public Education Commission (PEC) districts.
Following passage of the State’s first Redistricting Act and appointment of the nonpartisan Citizen Redistricting Commission entrusted to implement it, voters and legislators have been in the process of evaluating ways to ensure that votes receive equal weight and representation. CRC members have traveled statewide to hear and attend to public comment on ways to enhance inclusion of communities of interest, have taken virtual and in-person testimony, and ultimately adopted a set of nine maps for legislators to consider. Legislators may ignore the maps, if they so choose, but doing so is likely to be politically risky.
In separate but related activities, counties are in the process of redistricting commission districts to reflect changes in population measured by the census. Sandoval County Democrats are protesting the county commission’s proposed maps, drawn by an activist Republican demographer, as extreme political gerrymandering designed to favor the GOP as well as race or ethnic gerrymandering that violates the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting Native American and Hispanic voting power. The Republican-dominated commission is currently scheduled to vote on the maps on December 9, 2021.
In Bernalillo County, precincts are being redrawn and their outer boundaries moved largely in response to an influx of voters on the West Side. With the county changes, some precinct officers may wake up one day to discover that they no longer live within the boundaries of the precinct that elected them and therefore no longer hold their positions. The same is possible for those in state legislative districts. We will cover those changes in The Blue Review in the coming weeks, as DPBC prepares for precinct meetings next spring.
Meantime, the state Democratic Party requests that voters voice trust for the new redistricting processes as legislators convene for reconfiguring the State. Voters are urged to support the new redistricting process and its transparency above advocacy for one or another map.
Here are some talking points suggested by the DPNM:
- Democrats want this to be a non-partisan process, so as a political party, we’re not advocating for any specific map.
- Under Democratic leadership this has already been one of the fairest and most transparent redistricting processes possible.
- We can be proud of the political participation thus far in the redistricting process, as people have turned out and weighed in on priorities of their communities.
- The new redistricting process will represent voices of all New Mexicans and gather input from a wide variety of communities to create fair, straightforward maps that best represent our state’s varied interests.
- The transparent process run by Democrats is in clear contrast to what we’ve seen when Republicans are in charge across the nation as well as in the Sandoval County Commission, where a GOP gubernatorial candidate is among those pushing an extreme overhaul of districts which has the potential to disenfranchise Native and Hispanic voters in the county.