Brief #62—Civil Rights

Policy Summary
On November 6, 2018, Proposition 4 in Utah and Amendments Y and Z in Colorado will be on the ballot to vote on for residents of each state. Proposition 4 in Utah is known as the Independent Redistricting Commission Initiative and if approved by voters will establish an independent redistricting commission that will be in charge of drawing the state map for congressional districts and state legislative districts. In Colorado, Amendment Y is the Independent Commission for Congressional Redistricting Amendment. Amendment Z is the Independent Commission for State Legislative Redistricting Amendment. Both are proposed amendments to the Colorado State Constitution and are proposals to change the method for drawing the congressional map and state district map for Colorado. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Analysis: These proposals on the ballots in Colorado and Utah are part of a growing national trend to counter the effects of abusive gerrymandering in the United States. State legislatures have the power to draw the congressional district and state legislative districts of their state but the maps lately have been drawn with the intent to keep a political party in power and dilute the voting power of the electorate in the state. Instead of a true expression of an electorate’s preferred candidate the state map is drawn and designed in a way that manipulates the maps to ensure that a certain candidate will win by shifting voting blocs to other districts where their votes will not have an impact on an election.

Instead of allowing the state legislatures to continue to be in charge of drawing the maps, these initiatives will instead take this power away from them. In Colorado, the initiatives would place the power of drawing these maps in the hands of a twelve (12) member independent commission and there must be a reasonable chance for members to change hands every few years. The goal would be to try and eliminate entrenched candidates and make candidates more responsive to the concerns of their districts. In Utah, Proposition 4 would appoint a seven (7) member independent commission to draw the state legislative maps. It would also bar prior state government officeholders from serving on the commission.

These initiatives are potential game – changers and are currently gaining steam in various states around the country. Citizens have become fed up with being unable to vote out state representatives that seemingly stay in office for long periods of time and who have become unresponsive to their concerns. The Brennan Center of Justice has a list of non – partisan groups that have sprouted up in various states to combat gerrymandering. The goal of these groups is to reform the redistricting process in their respective states. Letting the representatives of the state legislature decide the maps to use for future elections is clearly a personal and professional conflict of interest and creates the perception that American elections are not as independent and transparent as we think they are. With this growing trend of independent redistricting commissions, Utah, Colorado and other states can come one step closer to having elections and chosen representatives that are more reflective of how their states vote overall. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

  • Terminate Gerrymandering – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Crowdpac page to raise money and fight abusive gerrymandering in the U.S.
  • Common Cause – non – profit group’s webpage on their efforts to combat gerrymandering.
  • Reclaim The American Dream – non – profit group’s webpage listing groups engaged in the fight against gerrymandering.
  • Represent OK – state non – partisan group that is trying to combat gerrymandering in Oklahoma.

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact

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