Arizona’s Political Lineup
The pool of 25 candiates for the Commission must be ready by January 8 or each redistricting year. The Commission aims to meet a deadline of August 1 in 2001.
Who’s in Charge of Redistricting?
The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, created by Proposition 106, which amended the Arizona Constitution to allow a five member commission of balanced appointments to redraw Arizona's Congressional and Legislative Districts. The Independent Redistricting Commission is charged with redrawing fair, competitive districts based on criteria set forth in Proposition 106. The new districts must also comply with Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act and follow traditional redistricting principles including compactness, contiguity, and respect for existing boundaries such as cities, geographic features, and "communities of interest".
Meetings of the Redistricting Commission are open to the public and a scheduleof the most recent meetings is available online. In addition there are several ways citizens can influence the Commission, including via email, at the meetings, or online. The Redistricting Commission has made drafts of the preliminary maps available online. The Arizona Republic has made a .pdf file of the map available online as well
A fast-growing state, Arizona has gained one congressional district in each of the past four redistricting cycles, and in 2001 it gained two more. Republicans currently hold a five-one edge in seats, after holding a four-one edge for much of the 1980s. From 1993 to 1995, Democrats held three seats, however, and with the state trending more Democratic in recent federal elections, redistricting in 2001 could be particularly significant.
The state legislature consists of 30 districts, each with one state senator and two state house members. During the last round of redistricting, party control of the state legislature was split between Democrats and Republicans. However, party control has less influence now; since new districts are now drawn by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The Speaker of the House makes one appointment to the Commission, followed by the minority leader in the House, the president of the Senate, and the minority leader of the Senate, the fifth member is not affiliated with a political party and is selected by the other four members.
In 1992, the Republican-controlled state house and the Democratic state senate deadlocked on two separate congressional plans. The Republican group sued in U.S. district court, which instead upheld a third party intervenor's plan. (The senate plan was rejected because it took remedial measures to create a Latino-minority district when there was insufficient evidence that the Latino population met the criteria established in Thornburg v. Gingles required for such a plan. In the absence of Voting Rights Act requirements, the court stated that neutral criteria should be followed. The third party plan was selected because it adhered best to the neutral districting principles of compactness, contiguity, serving communities of interest, and protection of incumbents. The district court's judgment was later affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1993.
An action was also filed in U.S. district court requesting the court to redistrict the state legislative districts because the legislature had failed to do so. The suit was stayed and later dismissed after the legislature enacted and successfully precleared a plan after several attempts.
State affiliates of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters were among several civic groups that formed Fair Districts and Fair Elections (www.fairdistricts.org). The coalition collected more than 200,000 signatures to place a measure on the November 2000 ballot that established an independent citizen commissio which must draw more compact districts, governed by non-political factors. The campaign received editorial support from the state’s major newspapers. The measure was put on the ballot as Proposition 106 and passed 56-44 in 2000.