Redistricting panel approves final congressional and legislative districts

January 17, 2012

Republicans and Democrats each benefit from new legislative and congressional districts approved by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The AIRC also created districts that don’t overwhelmingly favor either party. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Paul Atkinson reports.

More than half of the redrawn legislative districts favor Republicans.  One-third favor Democrats and at least three are considered competitive with a chance of either party winning.  Four congressional districts lean Republican, two tilt Democratic and three are competitive.

JENNIFER STEEN “The Democrats could have done better for themselves.  They also could have done worse.” 

Jennifer Steen is an ASU political science professor.

JENNIFER STEEN  “They are an improvement from the status quo for Democrats, but the Democrats still are going to be underrepresented with respect to their numbers in the population.”   

The biggest changes are to congressional districts.  The new northeast Arizona district includes the Hopi reservation – which had previously been placed in a different district as a result of past feuds with the Navajo Nation.  A new Western Arizona district cuts through Yuma, includes Prescott, and extends all the way to northern Gila County.

SHANE WIKFORS  “We feel that maps that were produced were done in a way that left us scratching our heads a little bit”

Shane Wikfors is with Arizona Republican Party.

SHANE WIKFORS  “Simply not just because of the shape, but because I think this commission put competition above several other factors.” 

The maps will now be sent to the Voting Rights section of the Justice department to make sure that proposed changes won’t negatively affect minority voting rights.

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