Every ten years our state is required to review the boundaries of Colorado legislative districts and revise them if needed. There are a variety of issues that are to be taken into consideration, including census data and other, more nebulous criteria. Inevitably the process is highly political as both major parties try to figure out what maps will give them the ability to win more seats in future elections and invariably the Colorado Supreme Court makes the final decisions on the map boundaries after one political party or the other complaints.
Interestingly, this year’s redistricting (Congressional) and reapportionment (General Assembly) efforts will have major impacts on our area, particularly Larimer County, which includes a relatively large proportion of unaffiliated voters. Larimer, which used to be part of Congressional District 4, will join Boulder in Congressional District 2, which is represented by Jared Polis. (Longmont will remain in District 4.)
Rep. BJ Nikkel, who lives near Carter Lake, has represented House District 49 (unincorporated Larimer County) for several years. However, the new map conveniently carves out her precinct and adds it to House District 51 (Loveland). This puts Rep. Nikkel in the same district as Rep. Brian DelGrosso, who is a member of the same political party. The new map will force them into a primary if they want reelection – against each other.
Should revisions to legislative districts be the responsibility of politicians (or political appointees)? Some states, such as Iowa, use a non-partisan legislative staff committee to redraw the boundaries. To read some interesting opinions from a member of the reapportionment committee who is also a retired political scientist, visit: http://blogs.denverpost.com/thespot/2011/12/14/memoirs-of-a-reapportionment-loevy-on-super-mario-and-being-steamrollered/49998/