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What 10 Years Can Do To A Map

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Ten years ago, after the state legislature was unable to arrive at a new way to draw up Colorado’s Congressional district map, the State Supreme Court did the job for them and drew up the map that we currently live with today.

When that map was presented to the citizens of Colorado in 2001, Republicans claimed that the Supreme Court was stacked with liberals and that the map gave Democrats a clear advantage.

Democrats applauded the Court’s efforts to make the 7th Congressional district almost exactly balanced between Democrats, Republicans and Independent voters. That balance was proven when Bob Beauprez won the seat in 2002 by 121 votes.

Fast forward to 2011 and opinions of that 2001 map have changed dramatically.

In a lawsuit that will eventually determine the new look of the Colorado’s Congressional district map, Republicans submitted a map that they consider to be very close to the current one. Apparently they are no longer worried about the advantage Democrats have with the map “liberal” Supreme Court justices drew up in 2001.

Meanwhile, Democrats submitted a map that basically turns the current map on its ear, if maps have ears.

The map that Democrats submitted dramatically changes the shape of all but three of the current districts. It seems that 2011 Democrats feel that the Supreme Court in 2001 had it all wrong.

Admittedly, the demographics of Colorado have certainly changed over the last ten years. However, we didn’t grow fast enough to merit a new Congressional district, as we did in 2000, nor did we experience massive growth or significant population loss. Basically, we grew a bit in a few places, and that modest growth has caused the need to redraw the map.

So even though Colorado did not undergo remarkable changes over the last ten years, are we to believe that Democrats and Republicans have found enough reasons to do a complete 180 degree turn on the map from 2001?

Or is the more likely scenario that both parties are simply looking towards the best path to use this opportunity for their own party’s gain?

I think we all know the real answer. But for me, this whole experience begs an entirely different question.

Why aren’t the duties of drawing up new Congressional maps every ten years given to a committee of unaffiliated voters? Other states do it this way, why not Colorado?

With no skin in the game, a committee of unaffiliated voters might actually create districts that are balanced and not aimed at giving either party a distinct advantage.

So why doesn’t this happen in Colorado? Simply put, laws are written by Democrats or Republicans. Do you honestly think either party wants to give away that much power?

Yeah, I don’t think so either.

Both parties give lip service to the idea of competitive districts and being fair to voters. But let’s face it, if that was indeed what all Democrats and Republicans wanted, they would have been able to draw a map together and they wouldn’t have changed their opinion over the current map so completely.

If Colorado voters want balanced and competitive districts, there’s only one party they can count on, the unaffiliated party. But sadly, despite their numbers, they have yet to have a seat at the table of power.
About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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