SIERRA VISTA â€” Public input is essential to ensuring that the redistricting process currently under way in Arizona results in a fair and equal mapping of state legislative and congressional districts, the co-chair of the Arizona Competitive Redistricting Coalition told community members Saturday.
Ed Honda/Wick News Service Ken Clark, co-chair of the Arizona Competitive Districts Coalition, chats with former Arizona State Rep. Patricia Fleming during his visit to Sierra Vista. Clark was invited by the League of Women Voters in Cochise County to talk about redistricting issues at the Sierra Vista Public Library.
The number of voters who live in districts where the imbalance between the two major political parties is so great that a candidate from the minority party essentially stands no chance of winning that district is staggering, Clark said. Because of this, â€ś46 percent of all voters in Arizona effectively have no voice in these elections.â€ť
Competitive districts, those in which the difference between the number of registered Republicans and Democrats is 7 percent or less, have declined across the country for decades, he said.
Currently, six out of the 30 state legislative districts meet this criteria. â€śI would suggest to you that thereâ€™s a causal relationship between competitive districts and how well our democracy functions,â€ť he said.
With the latest national census completed, Arizona stands ready to gain a seat in Congress, resulting in the redrawing of congressional and legislative district lines across the state.
It is the Arizona Competitive Districts Coalitionâ€™s hope that voter participation will help ensure that the group tasked with doing this, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, does so in a way that creates more competitive districts, Clark said.
â€śThe Voting Rights Act requires that you create a bunch of districts that protect a protected class. In Arizona, thatâ€™s Native American, African-American and Latino,â€ť he said. Such laws, as well as poor distribution of political party members in certain areas of the state, will never allow for all districts to be competitive.
However, the coalition believes that at least 10 state legislative districts and four of the stateâ€™s soon-to-be nine congressional districts can meet this criteria.
â€śWhat weâ€™re doing now, as an organization, is asking you all for help,â€ť Clark said.
In addition to raising awareness with presentations such as these all over the state, the coalition is urging individuals to utilize a special software program they have created to redraw district boundaries themselves, using the most recent census data.
The process is relatively simple, said Clark, comparing the difficulty level to managing a fantasy football team. â€śIf you can do that, you can do this,â€ť he said.
The coalition will collect these submissions and present them to the redistricting commission prior to September, when the commission must submit its new district map to the Department of Justice for pre-clearance.
For more information, visit www.azredistricting.com.