Feds OK Yuma's split congressional districts
Arizona's new map of congressional districts has cleared a federal review for compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
The map splits Yuma County into two congressional districts that elect members to the U.S. Congress.
South county is now in Congressional District 3 and north county in Congressional District 4. The county and the city of Yuma will now be represented by two different members of Congress.
A letter from a Justice Department official to lawyers for the state's redistricting commission says the department does not have any objections to the map.
Barring any successful legal challenges, the new districts can be used in elections in the coming decade, starting with this fall's primary and general elections.
The commission approved the new map in January. It creates nine congressional districts. That's one more district than the eight used in elections during the past decade.
The commission's map of new legislative districts, which elects members to the state Legislature, remains under review by the Justice Department.
The redistricting process was filled with controversy. Local politicians objected to the congressional and legislative maps dividing Yuma County and placing it with parts of Maricopa and Pima counties.
District 3 is now all of Santa Cruz County, 61.7 percent of Yuma County, 30 percent of Pima County and .10 of Pinal County.
In Yuma County, the district includes San Luis, Somerton and 72 percent of the city of Yuma.
District 4 now has all of La Paz County, 99.4 percent of Mohave County, 85.20 percent of Yavapai County, 54.4 percent of Gila County, 47.8 percent of Pinal County, 38.3 percent of Yuma County and 1 percent of Maricopa County.
It includes 28.1 percent of Yuma, all of Fortuna/Foothills, Wellton, Martinez Lake, Tacna and Dateland.
Some have charged that dividing Yuma County will dilute its voting base and diminish political influence.
However, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-District 7, who currently represents all of Yuma County, believes otherwise.
“Overall, I think it's a good thing,” he said.
He noted that his district, which is now District 3 on the new map, is predominantly Hispanic. “(The new map) protects the interests of Yuma's minority voters.”
He added that it puts south Yuma County with other communities with similar interests, such as the border, economic development and education.
“As far as I'm concerned, it's a good map and it links together communities with singular interests.”
To view the final congressional map, go to http://azredistricting.org/Maps/Final-Maps/default.asp.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Staff writer Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6856.