The Race for Redistricting in Colorado

Two sets of measures concerning state legislative and congressional redistricting in Colorado are currently before the Secretary of State and the state Supreme Court, each vying for victory in the form of inclusion on the 2018 state ballot. And though both initiatives aim to change the state’s redistricting process, the proponents of the measures have fundamental differences on the best way to approach reform.

The nation’s 435 districts are divided and determined by population, with an average size of 711,000 for each. The 2010 census reported that Colorado’s population was 5,029,196. Population estimates as of December 20 for Colorado were at 5,607,154. After the 2000 census, Colorado gained a seventh representative. And an analysis of census data from Election Data Services anticipates that an eighth will likely be gained after the 2020 census as well, though that also depends on growth and loss in other districts.

Redistricting refers to the drawing of boundaries to reflect population changes after the decennial census. In 1974, Colorado voters adopted a constitutional amendment that created a reapportionment commission, which is tasked with drawing the state’s 65 House of Representatives districts and 35 state senate districts.

The 11-member commission is appointed by the legislative leaders in the House and Senate, as well as the governor and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Colorado has seven congressional districts. Currently, the state legislature draws those boundaries. With Colorado’s population projected to swell to more than 5.9 million by 2020, the two competing groups trying to implement new redistricting procedures have their work cut out for them.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the January 8, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.