Archive for Thursday, December 10, 2009

Redistricting process begins in Topeka

December 10, 2009


— The once-a-decade political brawl -- known as redistricting -- got under way quietly Thursday with legislators and staff slowly going over some ground rules.

The real battles are years down the road when the Legislature, after the completion of the 2010 census, will re-draw boundaries for congressional districts and their own legislative districts for the 2012 election.

During the last redistricting go-round in 2002, the city of Lawrence was split with the western portion going into the 2nd congressional district and the eastern portion remaining in the 3rd congressional district.

Many saw the split as a partisan move by the Republican controlled Legislature to hurt U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, a Democrat, in the 3rd congressional district, and increase GOP strength in the 2nd congressional district.

But Moore continued his domination over Republicans in the 3rd. The 2nd, which was then held by U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Topeka, went Democratic in 2006, but then flipped back to the GOP in 2008.

On Thursday, House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, chaired the 2009 Redistricting Advisory Group.

Asked if Lawrence would remain split, O’Neal said, “not necessarily,” although he said it was way too early to tell.

During the meeting, the committee considered congressional redistricting guidelines that said districts should recognize communities of interest, specifically social, cultural, racial and economic communities of interest.

O’Neal said the term communities of interest “is such a broad term.” Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said perhaps the Legislature should keep the term as broad as possible.

One thing that had been a concern in recent years was whether because of Kansas’ slow population growth it might lose one of its four U.S. House seats. But committee staff members said based on the latest census estimates, Kansas should retain its House districts.


gccs14r 8 years, 3 months ago

Districts should be regular polygons where possible. District boundaries should not be drawn by politicians, especially sitting politicians who stand to benefit from the process.

TopJayhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

gccs14r agreed, but it has always been this way, and don't expect it to change.

Jimo 8 years, 3 months ago

A non-partisan (not bi-partisan) commission should draw the lines with two principles in mind: that the districts are: (A) as compact as possible, representing existing demarcated areas such as townships and cities, and (B) as competitive as possible, ideally with the highest level of risk of changing hands election to election (none should end up with winners carrying 70%, 80% of the vote).

This avoids situations where it's really the politician who chooses their voters rather than the other way around. There is no one more deaf to the wishes of the people than an incumbent with a padded margin for victory.

sinedie 8 years, 3 months ago

There are legislators in favor of reforming this process:

Even a non-partisan commission would probably be appointed by the legislature, and the legislature still has to have the final vote on the plan, but as gccs14r suggests, this is a simple issue of conflict of interest. If I'm playing the game, I shouldn't get to write the rules.

George_Braziller 8 years, 3 months ago

Jimo - You're dead on! Unfortunately the legislature has control over the issue and they'll spend all their energy trying to protect their own rather than do what's right.

MyName 8 years, 3 months ago

Hopefully, they'll give up on the idea of splitting lawrence down the middle, although that seemed to end up making the 2nd district more competitive.

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