Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, November 28, 2011

Redistricting -- the action resumes UPDATED 4:20pm MST

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is scheduled to meet tomorrow for the first time in nearly a month. On tap three days in a row, the members will be briefed by county elections officials to set the urgency for getting the final maps completed and sent off to the Department of Justice.

Additionally, mapping consultant Strategic Telemetry will present a report detailing and summarizing public input received during the second round of outreach hearings. Then legal counsel and a consultant on racially polarized voting will brief the Commission on Voting Rights Act matters.

With those items on the forefront, the five commissioners will work to make adjustments to the draft Congressional and legislative maps.

To my knowledge, no one has reported on any planned next move(s) by Arizona's GOP elected officials. There are, however, still a few days remaining for Gov. Brewer to call a special legislative session for the purpose of putting a measure on the ballot for February 28 (the date of the Republican Presidential Preference Primary) asking voters to repeal Prop 106. That move carries several risks and could (would certainly) backfire on them. Then again, removing Mathis from the AIRC had obvious risks from the start. There is ample evidence now that neither Brewer nor the legislature gave much thought to those risks a month ago.

House Speaker Andy Tobin has been outspoken in his criticism of the AIRC and of the Arizona Supreme Court for reinstating Colleen Mathis as chair. While Tobin used blatantly inflammatory rhetoric in his criticism, he has tempered his language about what a proposed ballot measure should say and do. He has acknowledged that voters are likely unwilling to give redistricting authority back to state lawmakers but also believes voters may consider making some changes, such as to increase the number of independent members of the Commission.

What remains at this time is an unspoken anxiety that can be likened to that of tectonic plates building up tension that eventually gets released, when those plates shift, as earthquakes.

Because we do not know how the tension will be released, watching the AIRC closely this week will be very important, for the decisions that are made (voted on) as well as to assess the interaction of the five commissioners. It's fair to expect that GOP/TP activists will again show up to express their consternation over the results of the recent litigation in the Supreme Court.

Beyond that, we just have to wait and see.

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UPDATE

There's plenty of buzz around the State Capitol today about the possibility that Brewer might call the legislature into special session to refer a repeal of Prop 106 for voters. Other than what I posted earlier on this, it appears that GOP caucuses are calling their members to check on availability.

Several questions remain, however, making a special session still uncertain. The ALEC conference in Scottsdale may bring more of them to the valley but it also might be a reason they do not want to be called for a vote before the Nov 30 deadline (to make it so the measure could be on the Feb 28 ballot).

Other unresolved questions include whether DOJ would even allow it to go forward, given that the only other item voters will consider that day (in Arizona) is which GOP presidential candidate to nominate; as well as the cost of such an election and the cost of likely litigation.

5 comments:

  1. I am a registered Democrat. I can't vote in the Republican GOP primary. It may, and should, be illegal to put a referendum on that ballot.

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  2. Edward,

    I agree. Of course, since AG Thorne has seen fit to sue the DOJ over the pre-clearance, any denial by the DOJ would be seen as retaliation by the "tea party" movement members and their allies.

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  3. If we are going to reform the commission (and this is the wrong time to do it), we should:

    1) Increase the number of commissioners AND independents.
    2) No longer allow the commissioners to be chosen by sitting legislators.
    3) Define competition and community of interest.

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  4. Ken,

    On my blog, I mention how I would reform the AIRC to protect it. I am currently looking for an organization that will take those changes to the voters.

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  5. @ Justice. I can share with you the language from our 2008 effort to reform the commission. I would not be in favor of the special election approach. But 2012, maybe. It depends on the wording and whether the Legislature and Governor are just running it as a way to undermine future fair redistricting. I would look for something with the backing of Common Cause and LWVs.

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