Posted by 22 March 2021
A bipartisan commission will be part of the redistricting process in New Mexico under a bill passed recently by legislators. However, this independent commission will not have as much power as commissions in other states -- legislators will still have the final say over how their districts look.
Under the bill passed overwhelmingly by the Democratic-controlled legislature, a seven-member commission will draw legislative and congressional districts. These districts must be redrawn after every census. The members will be appointed by the Democratic and Republican leaders in the legislature as well as by the state’s ethics commission.
Unlike in other states, however, this commission’s work would then go to the legislature for modification and then final approval. While many supporters of independent commissions see them as a way to remove political considerations from redistricting, they are concerned that allowing for legislative modification severely weakens this.
Independent redistricting commissions are intended to end the practice of legislators who hold the majority drawing district boundaries to maximize their party’s chances of keeping the majority. Those who back these commissions contend that bipartisan panels will craft districts that are less concerned about politics and more concerned about adequately representing the people of a state. Critics, however, say that this could lead to certain communities being ignored in the process.
When the idea of an independent commission was being discussed earlier this year, Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf said that it would lead to a loss of seats for his party. He said he could not support a measure that would do that.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to sign the measure. If she does, New Mexico will join 14 other states will similar commissions.
Do you think that independent commissions or legislators should draw legislative district boundaries?