Arizona Democratic Party seeks probe into alleged GOP gerrymandering

Apr 12, 2022, 4:05 AM
(Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission)...
(Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission)
(Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Democratic Party is seeking a formal investigation into allegations that Republicans on the state’s redistricting commission helped protect the seats of three sitting GOP legislators in violation of the state constitution.

In a letter sent Monday, Arizona Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie Fisher urged state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, to look into several late changes made to boundary maps before they were approved by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in December 2021.

Fisher made the argument that the AIRC’s two Republican members pushed through adjustments during the final phase of the monthslong process in order to move the residences of Sens. Wendy Rogers, Sine Kerr and Vince Leach in safe GOP districts.

The changes moved Rogers from LD6 to LD7, Kerr from LD23 to LD25 and Leach from LD16 to LD17, according to Fisher.

Proposition 106, which took redistricting out of the hands of the Legislature, states that “residences of incumbents and other candidates may not be used to create district maps.”

Voters approved the initiative in 2000. It amended the state constitution to create the AIRC — a panel made up of two commissioners from each party and an independent member to serve as chair — in an effort to limit partisanship in the redistricting process.

“The Commission was supposed to put an end to incumbent gerrymandering, which eliminates political competition and deprives Arizonans of fair and competitive elections,” Fisher’s letter says.

“But recent acts by the Commission, and more specifically Commissioner David Mehl and Commissioner Douglas York, have resurrected this rejected practice.”

Redistricting is required every 10 years under the U.S. Constitution to adjust for population changes around the country.

Last year’s five-member panel was made up of Republicans York and Mehl, Democrats Derrick Watchman and Shereen Lerner, and Erika Neuberg, the independent chair who was selected by the partisan members.

The panel approved the final legislative boundaries by a 3-2 vote, with the two Democrats opposing them.

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Arizona Democratic Party seeks probe into alleged GOP gerrymandering