Phoenix, AZ – The initial maps for Arizona’s redistricting process were approved on September 14, 2021, by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC). The approved grid maps are of equal populations for the congressional and legislative districts as required by the state constitution.
Arizonans are encouraged to become involved with this next phase by utilizing the online mapping system and or by attending the public hearing sessions. Information can be found at irc.az.gov.
“We welcome the involvement and voices of all interested individuals and groups to become part of this critical process that will remain in place for the next ten years,” said Erika Neuberg, Chairwoman Independent Redistricting Commission. “With the approval of scheduled dates, times and locations, for the next round of public hearing, we will follow the State of Arizona’s COVID guidelines but also encourage those who choose not to participate in person to please go online and submit comments and maps.”
The following is the schedule of in-person public meeting sessions:
Tuesday, September 21 4:00 pm (MST) 5:00 pm (MDT)
Red Mountain Multigenerational Center
7550E. Adobe St.
Mesa, AZ 85207
Yuma Civic Center
1440 W. Desert Hills Dr.
Yuma, AZ 85365
Navajo Nation Training Center (limit 25 participants onsite) Masks Required
Morgan Blvd. Bldg. #2740
Window Rock, AZ 86515
Thursday, September 23 12:00 pm ( MST)
Scottsdale Center for the Arts
7380 E. 2nd St.,
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
777 N. Pinal Ave
Casa Grande, AZ 85122
391 E. Fry Blvd.
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
Saturday, September 25 10:00 am (MST)
Desert Willow Conference Center
4340 E. Cotton Center Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 850401
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
3700 Willow Creek Road
Prescott, AZ 86301
Wednesday, September 29 4:00 pm (MST)
Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center
33606 N. 60th St.
Scottsdale, AZ 85266
Tucson Convention Center
260 S. Church Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85701
Thursday, October 7 4:00 pm (MST) 5:00 (MDT)
The Vista Center for the Arts
15660 N. Parkview Pl.
Surprise, AZ 85374
High Country Conference Center
201 W. Butler Ave.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Cesar Chavez Cultural Center
1015 N. Main St.
San Luis, AZ 85349
Kayenta Township Town Hall (limit 25 participants onsite) Masks required
100 N. Highway 163
Kayenta, AZ 86033
Individuals attending the in-person sessions at the main and satellite locations will have the opportunity to speak and give public comments on the grid maps. They can also complete their mapping comments online before the public meetings.
The boundaries of Arizona’s 30 legislative districts and 9 congressional districts are redrawn from scratch every 10 years based on U.S. Census population data. The task belongs to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC).
With the census data finally released last month, the IRC’s first mapping activity is to create Grid Maps showing the districts with equal population without regard to any other issues. Those Grid Maps are expected to be presented Tuesday when the IRC’s two Democrats, two Republicans, and Independent chairperson meets at 8 a.m. The public is invited to watch live at www.irc.az.gov
The commissioners have the option of adopting the Grid Maps during the meeting. Those maps will be followed in a few weeks by Draft Maps and then Final Maps by year-end.
Another IRC activity is to seek citizen feedback, which is one reason the same mapping software tool and database will be available to the public. A training session on the mapping tool will livestreamed Monday at 10 a.m., with a recording of the training posted on the IRC website on Tuesday.
Arizona voters passed Prop 106 in November 2000 to amend the Arizona Constitution by removing state lawmakers the power to draw state legislative and congressional legislative districts. The districts are to have equivalent population “to the extent practicable” in order to follow the one-person, one-vote premise of Arizona election law.
For the soon to be created legislative districts, that comes out to about 238,00 residents per district. Each congressional district would have about 794,000 residents.
However, each final district map may have populations which vary by several thousands due to the other five areas the IRC must consider: district shape, the federal Voting Rights Act, geographical features, potential competitiveness, and respect for communities of interest.
Steve Gaynor of Fair Maps Arizona is excited for the release of the Grid Maps, as they will show where Arizona’s nearly 12 percent population growth over the last decade has occurred.
“The Grid Maps are the first time we will see exactly how our population has changed,” he told AZ Free News. “We will see significant population growth, especially in metropolitan areas, and a few areas that have declined.”
Gaynor, a 2022 Republican gubernatorial candidate, founded Fair Maps Arizona in advance of this year’s redistricting effort due to concerns the previous IRC drew maps which did not follow the Arizona Constitution. He believes it is important for citizens to understand and participate in the IRC process, which Gaynor calls a “vital process in maintaining our democracy.”
That participation can involve expressing comments or concerns to the IRC in writing or at public hearings.
“I think individual comments to the IRC are important and do make a difference,” Gaynor said. “Of the six constitutional requirements for redistricting, the requirement to respect communities of interest is the most subjective, which is why hearing from people about it is so important. I think the commissioners will produce better maps as a result of having heard directly from the people.”
The IRC will conduct public hearings later this month about the Grid Maps. Those hearings will be the second time commissioners involved in the 2021 redistricting will hear from the public.
Earlier this summer, IRC commissioners took part in 15 public hearings about how the requirement of communities of interest should be considered. Gaynor said he was impressed that the commissioners took the time to travel across the state to hear from people on the subject.
“The commissioners listened carefully to the testimony and asked good questions,” he said. “They were clearly engaged with the people testifying.”
Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) will meet Tuesday, Aug. 31 to discuss public comments it heard over the last several weeks as the commissioners prepare to redraw the boundaries of Arizona’s 30 legislative districts and 9 congressional districts as required by law.
The five-member AIRC was formed in January with Democrats Shereen Lerner and Derrick Watchman, Republicans David Mehl and Douglas York, along with Erika Neuberg, an Independent, serving as chairwoman. The commission began its string of 15 hearings last month in an effort to hear citizens’ concerns and suggestions as AIRC prepares to map out Arizona’s 30 redesigned legislative districts (LD) and 9 congressional districts (CD).
The redistricting process requires boundaries to be redrawn under a plan that keeps districts at nearly equal population as required by the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions. It is based on population data garnered by the decennial U.S. Census.
Currently, each LD in Arizona represents about 213,000 people based on a 2010 Census population of nearly 6.4 million, while each CD serves about 710,000 people, give or take a few percent points. The AIRC must now start refresh to draw new boundaries for all the districts based on Arizona’s 2020 Census population of 7,158,923.
In developing those boundaries, the commissioners are required to consider six factors: equal population; compactness and contiguousness; compliance with the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act; respect for communities of interest; incorporation of geographic features such as city, town and county boundaries; and creation of competitive districts where there is no significant detriment to other goals.
It is the respect for communities of interest and creation of competitive districts which prompted the most public comments during the AIRC’s recent hearings. One of the concerns stems from the decision of the last redistricting commission to split some counties into multiple legislative districts, such as Pinal County which was carved up as part of six LDs.
There are also concerns with the past practice of drawing congressional districts which incorporate disparate and distant communities, as with CD4’s current boundary. That boundary starts in the northwest corner of the state Mohave County, about one hour northeast of Las Vegas. The line then meanders south through Mohave and La Paz counties (minus a few hundred square miles in CD5) down to the northern part of Yuma County.
CD4 also encompasses much of central Arizona, including most of Yavapai County, and it even skirts most of the Maricopa County metropolitan area so it can incorporate parts of Gila and Pinal counties.
Meanwhile, CD1 covers all of four counties (Apache, Graham, Greenlee, and Navajo), most of Coconino County, and parts of Gila, Maricopa, Mohave, Pinal, and Yavapai counties. By comparison, CD2 currently consists of Cochise County in the state’s southeast corner along with eastern Pima County.
At Tuesday’s virtual meeting, the AIRC is also expected to receive updates from mapping consultants and discuss an outreach strategy plan, as well as schedule additional public comment sessions. Among those closely following Arizona’s redistricting efforts is Fair Maps Arizona, founded in 2019 by current Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Gaynor.
Fair Maps Arizona is providing outreach efforts to help residents better understand legislative and congressional redistricting, and to encourage public comments.
U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) is also closely tracking Arizona’s redistricting process. Gallego leads the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, whose political action committee announced earlier this month it plans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in three southwestern states, including Arizona.
The PAC is expected to team up with grassroots organization to ensure the concerns of Latinos are taken into consideration by the redistricting committees in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
“Redistricting will dictate how Latino communities are represented in the halls of Congress for the next decade,” Gallego said at the time of the announcement.