Colorado commission picks new maps for the state House and Senate

Democrats would be poised to retain their current advantages in the state legislature, under new maps approved by an independent commission this week.

The commission — comprising four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated voters — will now submit its state House and Senate maps to the Colorado Supreme Court for final review.

The House map approved Monday suggests a 42-23 edge for Democrats, based on data from recent years’ election results. The current split is 41-24 in Democrats’ favor.

It was not immediately clear what the projected split would be on the Senate map, approved Tuesday, since the version the commissioned adopted was drawn on the fly during a live Zoom meeting. That version made slight changes to a previous drafted map that projected 22 districts leaning in Democrats’ favor, to 13 for Republicans.

But both the House and Senate maps would have many potentially competitive seats, which was one of the goals of this commission. Recent election results suggest margins of 3.1% or under in nine House districts, and margins of 3.8% or under in seven Senate districts.

“It’s my sincere hope that Coloradans will be not only fairly represented but enfranchised to the highest degree possible with the maps we’ve put forward here,” Amber McReynolds of Denver, an unaffiliated commission member and national elections expert, said after the vote.

This brings to a near-end a fast and sometimes hectic 2.5-month process by the commission to draw new House and Senate lines to stand for the next 10 years in Colorado. It’s written based on new 2020 U.S. Census data that shows Colorado is growing, diversifying and urbanizing.

That same data informed the proposed new congressional map for Colorado. That map, which includes a new 8th District north of Denver, was drawn by a separate commission that also had equal numbers of Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters. The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments on that map Tuesday and can return feedback — including possible changes — to the congressional redistricting commission by Nov. 1.

The court will also hear arguments on the statehouse maps, and will have a Nov. 15 to return feedback to the legislative commission.

This was the first time Colorado has used these independent commissions to draw new political maps. Voters approved a pair of ballot measures in 2018 that were meant to eliminate the chance of partisan advantage in redistricting.


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