Background and procedural information:
House Concurrent Resolution 2048 was introduced on 2/05/07 by Democratic Representatives Steve Gallardo and Tom Prezelski. The proposed legislation would amend the Arizona state constitution to create a nine member independent redistricting commission to ensure equally populated voting districts.
Under the proposed legislation, are single-member districts a requirement or otherwise implied?
Under Section 1 (1), single-member districts are a requirement, as the senate will be composed of one member elected from each of the thirty legislative districts established, and the house of representatives will be composed of two members elected from each of the thirty legislative districts.
Does the proposed legislation provide for Voting Rights Act compliance (i.e. can the commission use voter history information)?
Yes, the proposed legislation explicitly states that districts shall comply with the Voting Rights Act. The legislation provides that, in compliance with the Voting Rights Act, districts shall be geographically compact and contiguous, shall respect communities of common interests, and district lines shall use visible geographic features as well as city, town, and county boundaries. Party registration and voting history data will be excluded from the initial phase of the mapping process, but may be later introduced to test maps for compliance with the goals of the Voting Rights Act. The places of residence of incumbents or candidates may not be identified or considered.
Under the proposed legislation, how is the commission formed?
An independent redistricting is established every ten years, consisting of nine members, and no more than four members will be of the same political party, and of the first eight members appointed, no more than four shall reside in the same county. The members of the commission will be chosen from a pool of forty nominees, with sixteen from each of the two largest political parties, and eight nominees that are not registered with either of the two largest political parties. The members will be chosen first by the majority party caucus in the House, followed by the minority party caucus in the House, the majority party caucus to the senate, and minority party caucus in the senate.
Under the proposed legislation, are competitive districts favored?
The independent redistricting commission will establish both the congressional and legislative districts, and will create districts of equal population in a grid-like pattern across the state. The proposed legislation explicitly states that the districts will be competitive to the extent practicable and favored where competition would create no significant detriment to other goals.
Under the proposed legislation, can members of the public submit plans?
Although the legislation does not explicitly provide that members of the public can submit redistricting plans, the independent redistricting commission will advertise a draft map of congressional and legislative districts to the public for comment, which will be considered by the independent redistricting commission before establishing the final district boundaries.
Does the proposed legislation allow for mid-decade redistricting?
Although the legislation does not explicitly provide for mid-decade redistricting, a petition bearing the signatures of at least two-thirds of the members of each house will require the governor to call a special session to consider redistricting.