9/24/2013 4:12:00 PM Editorial: Lawmakers' takeover of redistricting in bad form
It is not good form to tell Arizona voters they don't know what they're doing.
It is very bad form to tell Arizona voters they have less authority than the Legislature.
It is particularly problematic and yet so predictable when those delivering these messages are the legislators themselves.
That has been the constant argument from Republican lawmakers regarding congressional boundaries and the whole idea of the Independent Redistricting Commission. If the GOP, seemingly led by Andy Tobin simply by his status as Speaker of the House, have an actual legal leg to stand on, they need to make the case much better than they have up to this point.
At the moment, trying to completely abolish the IRC and draw up political maps for themselves is looking very bad indeed. Because this was not set in motion until after the Republicans had a weak 2012 election result, it certainly looks like sour grapes and power grabbing. With voters, appearances can be everything.
In 2000, Arizona voters approved the creation of the IRC in order to get heavy Legislature thumbs out of the process of redistricting. The old way of drawing up maps was far too open to manipulation, gerrymandering and downright deceit.
Ideally, the IRC is comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats, all chosen by the legislators, and one independent member chosen by those four commissioners to chair. Crying that the commissioners are "unelected" and "nonrepresentative" is more self-revealing than it is a legal argument.
Redistricting according to changing census figures is a very difficult task. There are many requirements, stipulations and requests to take into account for every congressional district. And, of course, politics can still interfere within the commission. That, however, does not negate the commission; it only calls up corrective measures.
Unfortunately, with Tobin himself having an eye on a congressional seat, it is easier to see ulterior motives rather than constitutional argument.
Even if the GOP leaders find the right judges in the right court to see Arizona law their way, taking power away from a commission created by voters could have dangerous backlash. It is certainly not the way to win over crucial independents.
Messing with the will of the voters as well as political maps is not good form.