County Commissioner Districts Gerrymandering
The act establishes the process used by county commissioner redistricting commissions (commissions) to divide counties that have any number of their county commissioners not elected by the voters of the whole county into county commissioner districts. In these counties, the act:
- Recommends the establishment of independent county commissioner redistricting commissions and provides criteria to consider when creating these independent commissions;
- Requires the commissions to hold multiple hearings, either online or throughout the relevant counties, that are broadcast and stored online and comply with state statutes regarding open meetings;
- Requires the commissions to provide the opportunity for public involvement by providing the ability to propose and comment on plans and to testify at commission hearings;
- Prohibits improper communication between a member of a commission and the staff of a commission or a member of an advisory committee;
- Mandates that paid lobbying of the commissions be disclosed to the secretary of state by the lobbyist;
- Establishes prioritized factors for the commissions to use in drawing districts, including federal requirements, the preservation of communities of interest and political subdivisions, and maximizing the number of competitive districts;
- Prohibits the commissions from approving a plan if it has been drawn for the purpose of protecting one or more incumbent members, or one or more declared candidates, of the board of county commissioners, or any political party, and codifies current federal law and related existing federal requirements prohibiting plans drawn for the purpose of or that results in the denial or abridgement of a person's right to vote or electoral influence on account of a person's race, ethnic origin, or membership in a protected language group;
- Requires the commissions to approve a redistricting plan and specifies the date by which a final plan must be adopted by the board of county commissioners; and
- Specifies that the staff of each commission or an advisory committee will draft no less than 3 plans.
The act allows counties to complete the establishment, revision, or alteration of county commissioner districts by September 30 of the second odd-numbered year following a census, rather than the first odd-numbered year following a census. The act also ensures that, if the redistricting of county commissioner districts excludes the residence of a county commissioner from the district the commissioner represents, the commissioner may continue to hold the office of county commissioner until his or her term expires.
The act aligns the redistricting population data used to establish county commissioner districts with the redistricting population data used to establish congressional districts, state house of representative districts, and state senate districts.
The act also requires that, in a county where any number of county commissioners are not elected by the voters of the whole county and the board of county commissioners refers a measure to the voters of the county to change the method of electing county commissioners, the referred measure must provide at least 2 different methods of electing county commissioners.
Finally, the act repeals anachronistic county precinct size rules and allows county clerk and recorders to redraw precincts less often.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)