A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Preclearance


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Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Colleen Coyle Mathis April 30, 2013

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  • Thank you Dr. Jackson and thanks to Mr. Yepsen and the staff of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and those sponsors who made today possible. I applaud your efforts to bring independent redistricting to Illinois and so it is my hope that nothing I say today will dissuade you from this noble cause. I’m Colleen Mathis and I’m the Chairman of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. As a Peoria, IL native, it’s great to be back in the heartland and I’m delighted to see so many of you here, including mother, sister along with brothers and sisters-in-law. I would also like to make the disclaimer that my opinions are strictly my own and do not necessarily represent those of the Commission as a whole or the individual commissioners.
  • Application, vetting, interviews, selection
  • So the stage went dark for a couple of weeks as we awaited a hearing date with the Arizona Supreme Court who agreed to hear the case.
  • I am privileged to be represented by excellent counsel both for the commission and individually by Paul Charlton, former US Attorney for the State of Arizona.
  • 4 safe R districts: or 44% of the map compared to 35.4 % R registration
    2 safe R districts or 22% of the map compared to 30.4 % D registration
    3 competitive districts or 33.3% of the map compared to 34.2% Independent/Other
  • 4 safe R districts: or 44% of the map compared to 35.4 % R registration
    2 safe R districts or 22% of the map compared to 30.4 % D registration
    3 competitive districts or 33.3% of the map compared to 34.2% Independent/Other
  • Nothing quite like a glass vivarium to provide the ultimate in transparency and accountability
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Preclearance

    1. 1. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Preclearance for Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Colleen Coyle Mathis April 30, 2013
    2. 2. AIRC Overview • Creation • Process • Results • Lessons Learned 2
    3. 3. “In a spasm of good sense…” • Arizona’s redistricting process is governed by the state Constitution, as amended by voters in 2000 with the passage of Proposition 106. • It stipulates that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission redraw Arizona’s congressional and legislative districts to reflect the results of the most recent census. • Passed with 56% of the vote 3
    4. 4. Origins of Proposition 106 4 • A serendipitous combination of champions: – Two non partisan organizations: League of Women Voters and Common Cause – A native Arizonan with money in the bank who wanted to give back • Goal: A healthy exchange of ideas and better governance • Poll conducted to determine what people really want. “Let the People Draw the Lines” • Over 200,000 signatures collected to get Prop 106 on the ballot
    5. 5. Proposition 106 “Relating to ending the practice of gerrymandering and improving voter and candidate participation in elections by creating an independent commission of balanced appointments to oversee the mapping of fair and competitive districts.” 5
    6. 6. Some Arizona Context • ~ 6.4 million people (3.5 million in Maricopa County) • 2 x the land area of Illinois • 21 Native American reservations (rural and urban) • Growing Hispanic/Latino population ~ 30% • From 2000 to 2010, Arizona added almost 1 million new registered voters. Of that, 19% went to Republicans, 18% to Democrats, and nearly 63% chose to be Independents. – Republicans: 35.4 % – Democrats: 30.4 % – Independent/Other: 34.2% 6
    7. 7. What are the requirements of the State Constitution via Prop 106? New district boundaries must: A: Comply with the U.S Constitution and the Voting Rights Act B: Equal Population Criteria A and B are federally mandated. To the extent practicable the districts must be: C: Compact and Contiguous D: Respect communities of interest E: Use visible geographic features, city, town and county boundaries, and undivided Census Tracts F: Favor competitive districts where no significant detriment to other goals 7
    8. 8. A: Voting Rights Act – Arizona is one of 9 states covered as a whole meaning that its congressional and legislative districts must receive preclearance or approval from the Department of Justice or a federal court under Section 5. To get preclearance, Arizona must demonstrate that the new districts do not discriminate against minority voters in purpose or effect, which means there can be no intentional or accidental discrimination. – Under Section 5, Arizona's redistricting plans cannot be retrogressive. The plans cannot weaken or reduce minority voters' rights. – The presence of discrimination can be determined by analyzing population data and election results. 8
    9. 9. Step 1: Setting up the Commission – Commissioners are appointed following a thorough screening process. Timeline 9 Process
    10. 10. Process Step 2: First-Round Hearings Before drawing a single line, the Commission held 23 public hearings around the state in July and August to get input from the public about issues relevant to redistricting such as geography, communities of interest, minority voting rights, and competitiveness. 10
    11. 11. 29,000+ miles traveled 11
    12. 12. 12 Maps The AIRC Wants You to Stay Connected Maps
    13. 13. Process Step 3: Mapping – • Start with a clean slate • Then divide the state into equal population in a grid like pattern -- Grid Maps Approved August 18, 2011. • After adopting the grid maps, the Commission met more than 25 times to consider adjustments to the grid to accommodate all of the state constitutional criteria. During this time they received additional public comment and draft maps. • Approval of Draft Maps – Occurred on October 3, 2011 for the congressional map and October 10 for the legislative. 13
    14. 14. Previous Congressional Map 14
    15. 15. Starting Point – New Congressional Map 15
    16. 16. New Congressional Grid Map 16
    17. 17. New Congressional Draft Map 17 The draft congressional districts included: •Two predominantly rural districts •Three border districts •Three districts in the greater Tucson region •Five districts that are entirely in Maricopa County •It avoids splitting Arizona's Indian Reservations •Two districts where minority voters have the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice
    18. 18. Process Step 4: Second Round Hearings – • Visited 30 towns and cities all over the state to share the draft maps and receive additional public input during October and November 2011. 18
    19. 19. What does Independent mean? • It means independent from the Legislature. • It does not mean that politics is entirely removed from the process 19
    20. 20. 20
    21. 21. 21 “After having been served written notice and provided with an opportunity for response, a member of the IRC may be removed by the Governor, with the concurrence of 2/3 of the Senate for: - Substantial neglect of duty - Gross misconduct in office or - Inability to discharge the duties of office.” Supermajority in Senate with 21 R’s and 9 D’s in combination with a draft map the supermajority didn’t like = Removal of Chair The Perfect Storm…
    22. 22. 22 November 17, 2011 Reinstatement by Arizona Supreme Court
    23. 23. 23 Step 5: Final Maps • Upon completion of the public comment period, the AIRC adopted tentative final maps December 21, 2011 and final maps January 17, 2012. Step 6: Preclearance • The Congressional map was precleared April 9, 2012 and the legislative map on April 26, 2012.
    24. 24. Sweet Relief 24
    25. 25. Precleared New Congressional Final Map 25 Features: • Four Republican leaning districts (44% of map vs. 35.4% R registration; two Voting Rights Districts (22% of map vs. 30.4% D registration) where minority voters have the opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice; three competitive districts (33% of map compared to 34.2% Ind/Other registration). •Two predominantly rural districts •Three districts in the greater Tucson region •Avoids splitting Arizona's Native American Reservations
    26. 26. Pre-cleared New Congressional Final Map 26
    27. 27. New Legislative Final Map 27
    28. 28. Results • Public had numerous opportunities and methods to engage: – 58 business meetings – 43 public hearings – 5364 in attendance; more than 1800 via internet – 2350 requests to speak – 7403 pieces of public input – 224 maps submitted 28
    29. 29. 2012 Election Results • Congressional: – 4 safe R seats; 2 safe D seats and 3 competitive • Democrats swept all 3 competitive seats with one race taking almost two weeks to call (2454 vote difference). • 2 of the competitive seats have been designated as most likely to flip in 2014 (CD 1 and CD 2) • In 2008, the Arizona delegation was 5D and 3R. • Legislative: – Senate: 17 R’s and 13 D’s won seats – House: 36 R’s and 24 D’s 29
    30. 30. More Results • First time Arizona has ever received preclearance on both maps on first try. • Center for Public Integrity conducted a state integrity investigation and rated all 50 states in 14 areas, one of which was redistricting, for which Arizona received an A, our only one. (source: stateintegrity.org) • Independent redistricting is preserved…so far. 30
    31. 31. Litigation Happens! • Shelby County vs. Holder (Constitutionality of VRA) Awaiting US Supreme Court decision • 3 Pending Arizona Lawsuits: – Leach, et.al. vs. AIRC (challenging Congressional districts in state court) – Harris, et.al. vs. AIRC (challenging legislative districts in federal court) (Trial ended 3/29/13). Awaiting decision from 3 judge panel. – Arizona State Legislature vs. AIRC (assignment of task to redraw Congressional districts is sole purview of Legislature) • Continue defending maps as necessary 31
    32. 32. Lessons Learned • Importance of shielding commission from outside partisan forces • Striking the balance between flexibility and constraint • Having a healthy and courageous 3rd branch of government and fourth estate • Legislative privilege/immunity; independent procurement; funding; oversight 32
    33. 33. A potential solution? 33 redistricting
    34. 34. Transparency, Accountability… 34
    35. 35. Are there adjustments to IRC’s composition that make sense? Having the commission more closely reflect the electorate – Larger? – Geographic – Partisan – The Rise of the Independent • 2000: 43% R / 38% D/ 18% Other • 2010: 36% R/ 32% D/ 32% Other – Racial/ethnic – Hispanic Example • 2000: 1,295,617 • 2010: 1,895,149 – 46.3% increase – Gender 35
    36. 36. If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. ~ Harry Truman 36 redistricting Colleen Mathis
    37. 37. 37 Thank you … for your interest in independent redistricting! (You’ve got a friend in Arizona…)