Iowans Urge Lawmakers To Uphold Nonpartisan Redistricting Tradition At Public Hearing

Hide Caption

Iowa redistricting includes scanning census data, Legislative votingIowa's approach to redistricting is different than other states. This is rare for the U.S., where the topic easily sparks debate between politicians.Christine Sanchez, Wochit

Iowans got a chance to weigh in on a set of proposed legislative and congressional maps this week, urging lawmakers to uphold the state's vaunted history of nonpartisan redistricting.

Eleven Iowans spoke at two public hearings Monday and Tuesday and about 140 people submitted written comments. One final hearing will be held Wednesday evening at 6 p.m.

"We have heard plenty about gerrymandering in both red states and blue states, and I'm pleased, just as a citizen, that we do this the right way through the Legislative Services Agency, and I applaud their excellent work," Ryan Crane said during Monday's meeting. "(I'm) just really encouraging folks not to turn this into a partisan matter, not to go political with this, not to kind of blow up the process."

The maps, if accepted, would change the balance of political power in Iowa for the next decade and help determine who will represent voters in Congress and at the Statehouse.

More: Iowa’s proposed political boundaries set off debate as power hangs in balance

Iowa's nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency released the proposed maps last week, which redraw the state's four congressional districts and 150 state House and Senate districts. The agency draws new political boundaries every 10 years following the release of the U.S. census. In Iowa, the census showed that fewer people are living in the state's rural areas and more are moving to larger cities and suburbs, and the new districts better reflect those population shifts.

What would Iowa's congressional boundaries look like under the new maps? 

The maps would keep each of Iowa's four current members of Congress in their current districts — but their ability to win in those districts next year could vary wildly.

The 1st Congressional District would become friendlier to Democrats by bringing Johnson, Linn and Scott counties together, while the 2nd District would become slightly more favorable to Republicans. The 3rd District would retain an even partisan split and the 4th District would grow more Republican.More than 60 current state lawmakers would also be drawn into districts with another incumbent if the proposed maps are adopted.

The agency cannot consider factors such as the number of registered voters, election results or the addresses of incumbent politicians while drawing the maps.

More: These 5 Iowa redistricting maps and graphics show how legislative, congressional districts could change

The current set of proposed maps keep Polk and Dallas counties within the 3rd Congressional District, giving Des Moines and many of its suburbs the same congressional representation.

Michael Tallman spoke at Monday's meeting and urged lawmakers to approve maps that reflect the way "everything's a lot more interconnected than maybe it was even 10 years ago or 20 years ago."

"My sister lives just outside of Ankeny and works in Nevada. I live in downtown Des Moines and work in Dallas County," he said. "So that relationship is really cool, and seeing a map that kind of reflected that would be really nice to have for the next 10 years."

The majority of written comments left on the Iowa Legislature's website urged lawmakers to preserve Iowa's nonpartisan redistricting process and approve the proposed maps.

Iowa's special session for redistricting begins Oct. 5

State lawmakers will return to the Iowa Capitol on Oct. 5 for a special session where they'll decide whether to approve the maps. If they vote down the proposal, the state agency would have 35 days to draw new maps. Lawmakers must either accept or reject the maps; they cannot amend them.

More: 43% of Iowa lawmakers drawn into same legislative districts under new maps and other redistricting news

If lawmakers reject the second map, the agency would have another 35 days to create a third plan, which lawmakers would then be allowed to amend.

The Iowa Supreme Court has said lawmakers must finish their work and approve new maps by Dec. 1.

Iowans have one more chance to offer their input on the proposed maps, at another public hearing Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. Like the first two hearings, it will be streamed virtually.

Details about viewing the meetings, signing up to speak or offering a written comment can be found on the Iowa Legislature's website, Legis.Iowa.gov.

More: Can Iowa's nonpartisan redistricting model withstand today's hyperpartisan political climate?

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at bpfann@dmreg.com or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at sgrubermil@registermedia.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

Source : https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2021/09/20/iowa-lawmakers-urged-uphold-nonpartisan-redistricting-tradition-maps-2021-elections-voting/8419474002/

1296