Trying to throw out redistricting maps is partisan
If there is any doubt why Arizona voters decided in the year 2000 to turn voter redistricting over to an independent commission, it is only necessary to look at what is happening in the Arizona Legislature now.
The Independent Redistricting Commission recently completed creation of new voting district maps, as required by population changes each decade after the federal census count.
It was a long, involved process and the five-member panel made up of two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent member had to meet very specific criteria imposed by federal voting laws. The U.S. Justice Department still has to sign off on whether they got it right or not.
But Republican leaders in the state have already decided they got it wrong, claiming the commission tilted toward giving Democrats an advantage. Supporters of the maps say they created more competitive districts.
Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, a Republican, has come up with a solution to what he sees as the commission's biased maps: He has his own maps he wants to put before voters in a special election May 15 to override the one created by the commission.
First of all, it is questionable whether that is even possible and a court challenge would be likely, not to mention U.S. Justice Department approval would be required even if voters approved the maps. As noted earlier, there are strict criteria for fairness in establishing voting districts.
And while letting the voters decide may sound reasonable, the reality is voters are unlikely to be able to devote the time needed to actually analyze the maps to see if they are proper. It took the independent commission, with expert help, many months to determine that.
Tobin acknowledges he thinks more Republicans would be elected with his maps, showing his own partisanship.
It is this kind of partisanship that convinced voters to create the independent commission. Prior to its arrival, redistricting maps were created by the Legislature, with the predictable political outcome for whichever political party was in power.
The independent commission may not be perfect, but it is far better than the legislative alternative.