The New York Times has an interesting article on Congressional Redistricting today. One of the themes of the article is the importance of this year's election, and the impact an election of a Democratic or Republican governor will have on the process of redistricting in various states.
Of course, the unstated underlying premise is that Congressional seats are gerrymandered to ensure, or at least favor, election of members of certain political parties. This is true not only for Congress, but for state legislatures as well. The redistricting process in New Mexico after the 2000 census led to many rejected plans followed by a court battle, and there is little reason to think 2010 will be any different.
A plan calling for an independent redistricting commission has been introduced for the last few years, but can't make it through the House Voters and Elections Committee. It seems that our legislators are more interested in preserving their power bases than in creating a fair, participatory democracy.
An independent redistricting commission, and districts that are not gerrymandered as essentially incumbent protection plans would serve to increase interest in elections and voter participation. Both Voting Matters and the NM League of Women Voters will be supporting the creation of an independent redistricting commission in the upcoming legislature. We hope our legislators will look beyond their individual interests to see that a fair redistricting process is good for government and democracy.
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