Arizona Fair Districts, Fair Elections Initiative (2008)

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The Fair Districts, Fair Elections Initiative was a proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution that would have ensured that congressional and legislative districts were created by the Independent Redistricting Commission every ten years. The initiative would have complied with the U.S. Constitution, other federal law and other provisions of the Arizona Constitution, and ensured districts as competitive as practicable while respecting geography and community. It clarified that competitiveness is a priority. It would have expanded the size of the Commission and the way it is selected to make it more representative, and it would have provided prompt judicial resolution of disputes arising out of the Commission's work.[1]

Supporting arguments

1) It would have elevated the competitive requirement among the list of criteria for redistricting, while still allowing valuable consideration of compactness, communities of interest and geographic boundaries.

  • Background: In 2000, the voters hoped to make more competitive districts that were compact and respected their communities. What they got was a never-ending court battle. This language would have resulted in more competitive districts, while still requiring attention to compact, contiguous districts that respect communities of interest.
  • Important: increasing competition would not undermine minority districts because this initiative required compliance with the Fair Voting Rights Act (minority districts) before the competition requirements were met. Nor would it increase gerrymandering, as the process of defining compactness would have been still in tact.

2) It would have created original review for the Supreme Court so that any disputes could be cleared up more quickly.

  • Background: Since the 2002 redistricting process began, Arizona has spent more than $6 million chasing redistricting disputes around the judicial branch. Further, district lines have continued to confuse voters. This initiative would have created a simple and quick process for resolving disputes over redistricting. The Arizona Supreme Court would have appointed a special master to rule on disputes within six months.

3) It would have increased the number of commissioners from 5 to 9, to provide greater diversity on the commission, and so that the commission would not be as easily swayed by any single special interest.

  • Background: Redistricting is a high stakes game. Special interests lobbying for one set of lines or another overwhelmed the five commissioners who served in the first commission. Further, with only five commissioners, whole sectors of Arizona’s population are not represented. It would have created a body with the freedom to be more deliberative in its approach.

4) It would have required the minority and majority caucuses to choose the commissioners, rather than the minority and majority leaders. This would have also increased diversity and accountability while decreasing the influence of any single special interest.

  • Background: The intent of the original language was to create a process that was more transparent and representative. This is difficult when one individual chooses the commissioners.

Campaign Support

The Arizona Advocacy Network and Former State Representative Ken Clark sponsored the initiative.[2]

See also

External links