Democrats, Republicans and some Hollywood stars support Colorado’s proposed Amendments Y and Z. If passed, they would transfer the authority to draw electoral districts -- both congressional and legislative -- from the state legislature to an independent commission.
Some question if the proposed amendments would make much of a difference. To learn more, host Zoe Rom sat down with reporter Wyatt Orme. The following is an edited, condensed version of their exchange.
Q: Is gerrymandering a problem in Colorado?
A: Colorado has seven congressional districts. California has 53. According to Professor Ken Bickers, a political scientist at the University of Colorado, legislators in states with big populations have lots of ways to draw the district boundaries that gives one party an advantage over the other.
Colorado is growing, though, we have a census coming in 2020. It’s expected Colorado will get another congressional district. Bickers says it’s possible a new district could be drawn unfairly.
Q: Tell us about the commission that Amendment Y would set up.
A: There would be 12 people in total. Four of each: Republicans, Democrats and people with no party affiliation.
Q: A lot of big names have weighed in here; what are people saying about the amendment?
A: Proponents say this is a way to stop gerrymandering. This includes Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General under President Obama, and movistar-turned-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has voiced support for Amendment Y, saying it’ll "terminate" gerrymandering.
Q: Will Amendment Y terminate gerrymandering?
Professor Bickers said it isn't such a slam dunk. There’s a lot of power in controlling the electoral map. Hopefully the commission’s design keeps the party interests in check.
That said, the commission could only approve a new redistricting map with a super-majority. That means eight of the 12 members need to vote for it, and that would include at least two of the independent members of the commission. That’s a tall order. The commission could easily deadlock and, in that case, the maps would go to the state supreme court, who would decide which map the state will implement.