Republicans propose bill on expanding the redistricting commission

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Republicans propose bill that will allow voters to decide if the redistricting commission that draws Arizona congressional and legislative maps be expanded from five people to eight, with the chances of it being raised further to nine.

Voters already voted to keep lawmakers from drawing the maps themselves. It raises the question if the voters really want to vote against something they already agreed on. Republicans argue that the commission favors Democrats. The commission currently consists of two Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent.

“Republicans say the independent is basically a czar because they control everything,” Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, says. “They’re the deciding vote… This last go around, the independent was a de facto Democrat.”

The new plan is to have three of each main party. However, even that stirs some questions. The party leaders will be able to choose their own partisan members and one of the three independents. Quezada points out that of course they’ll go for an individual who most closely reflects their own values.

Quezada says he would like to see the vetting process of the members improved. They’re vetted by the same group that vets judges. For now, he says it’s like a free for all for those political leaders who serve on the commission and that’s what turns it into a partisan group.

In 2000, the state created a highly partisan set of maps, the Phoenix senator says. By the end of the decade, it resulted in a super minorities. The maps were being designed for the politicians, not the voters.

“It’s clear that Republicans were not happy with these last maps,” Quezada says. “Republicans still came out on top even with these maps.”

Quezada asks the question that many are wondering. Why are voters being asked to decide on a process that they voted for?

“What we have here in Arizona is a model for redistricting across the nation,” Quezada says. “Other states look at us and say ‘Your process works, it’s not perfect, but it works.'”

Sen. Martin Quezada: (D) Phoenix

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