County Commissioner Districts Gerrymandering
The bill requires the creation of independent county commissioner redistricting commissions (commissions) to divide counties that have any number of their county commissioners not elected by the voters of the whole county into county commissioner districts. The bill:
- Specifies that commissions are appointed both for counties that have any number of their county commissioners not elected by the voters of the whole county after each federal decennial census of the United States and when a county that has all of its commissioners elected by the voters of the whole county elects to have only some of its commissioners elected by the voters of the whole county;
- Specifies that the commissions consist of 7 members, 2 of whom must be registered with the state's largest political party, 2 of whom must be registered with the state's second largest political party, and 3 of whom must not be registered with any political party;
- Establishes the qualifications to serve on the commissions and the method by which commissioners are appointed;
- Authorizes the commissions to adopt rules and specifies how the commissions are staffed, how the commissions are funded, how the commissions are organized, and sets forth the ethical obligations of the commissioners;
- Requires the commissions to provide the opportunity for public involvement, including multiple hearings, the ability to propose maps, and to testify at commission hearings, and requires hearings to comply with state statutes regarding open meetings;
- Mandates that paid lobbying of the commissions be disclosed to the secretary of state by the lobbyist within 72 hours of when the lobbying occurred or when the payment for lobbying occurred, whichever is earlier;
- Establishes prioritized factors for the commissions to use in drawing districts, including federal requirements, the preservation of communities of interest and political subdivisions, and maximizing the number of competitive districts;
- Prohibits the commissions from approving a map if it has been drawn for the purpose of protecting one or more members of or candidates for county commissioner or a political party, and codifies current federal law and related existing federal requirements prohibiting maps drawn for the purpose of or that results in the denial or abridgement of a person's right to vote or electoral influence on account of a person's race, ethnic origin, or membership in a protected language group;
- Requires a majority of commissioners to approve a redistricting map and specifies the date by which a final map must be approved;
- Specifies that the nonpartisan staff of each commission will draft a preliminary redistricting map and up to 3 additional maps, and, in the event of deadlock by a commission, creates a process by which nonpartisan staff submit a final map to a panel of district court judges for review based on specified criteria; and
- Requires judicial review of a commission-approved or nonpartisan staff-submitted redistricting map, and limits district court judicial panel review to whether a commission or the staff committed an abuse of discretion.
The bill also repeals anachronistic county precinct size rules and allows county clerk and recorders to redraw precincts less often.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)