Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Should Arizona Add State Legislative Districts?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 4:30 PM

An interesting idea from AZ Blue Meanie (that just seems ridiculous to type out) today: add representatives to the Arizona legislature. While finding people willing to work for the absurdly low pay that gig offers is already a challenge with our existing number of positions to fill, but considering we've had the same number of districts since 1966, when the state's population was in the neighborhood of one million people, actual representation might be a bit of an issue now that there are around 6.4 million Arizonans:

Arizona ranks among the states with the least representation based upon per capita representation by district. Expanding to 40 districts would put us back into the mid-range by comparison to other states.

This is important to the work of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (the web site has not yet been updated). Proposition 106 (2000) which established the commission requires the commission to consider these criteria:

(14) THE INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION SHALL ESTABLISH CONGRESSIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS. THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE MAPPING PROCESS FOR BOTH THE CONGRESSIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS SHALL BE THE CREATION OF DISTRICTS OF EQUAL POPULATION IN A GRID-LIKE PATTERN ACROSS THE STATE. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE GRID SHALL THEN BE MADE AS NECESSARY TO ACCOMMODATE THE GOALS AS SET FORTH BELOW:

A. DISTRICTS SHALL COMPLY WITH THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND THE UNITED STATES VOTING RIGHTS ACT;

B. CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS SHALL HAVE EQUAL POPULATION TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE, AND STATE LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS SHALL HAVE EQUAL POPULATION TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE;

C. DISTRICTS SHALL BE GEOGRAPHICALLY COMPACT AND CONTIGUOUS TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE;

D. DISTRICT BOUNDARIES SHALL RESPECT COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE;

E. TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE, DISTRICT LINES SHALL USE VISIBLE GEOGRAPHIC FEATURES, CITY, TOWN AND COUNTY BOUNDARIES, AND UNDIVIDED CENSUS TRACTS;

F. TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE, COMPETITIVE DISTRICTS SHOULD BE FAVORED WHERE TO DO SO WOULD CREATE NO SIGNIFICANT DETRIMENT TO THE OTHER GOALS.

The job of the commission would be much easier to meet these criteria to create not just competitive districts, but more representative districts, if the number of districts depended upon a per capita formula of representation by district.

It would improve the quality of constituent services, if not the quality of governance at the Arizona Legislature.

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