Drawing political boundaries, especially for legislative and congressional seats, always is controversial because so much is at stake. This is normally done every 10 years after a new census is complete, but sometimes court action causes it to be redone. Traditionally the districts have been created by state legislators in many states, although voters are taking that job away in some places. This follows Arizona’s example from a few decades ago. Even with the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, however, controversy abounds.
In Arizona, four members of the commission are chosen by leaders of both parties in the Legislature, with a fifth — a registered independent and the chairman — chosen by the other four. The process is widely thought to have trended conservative after the 2000 census and to the left 10 years later.
One valid way of evaluating districts is through an “efficiency gap” test to see how each party’s candidates fare in an election. That test has been cited in court when districts are challenged. In Ohio, for instance, 12 Republicans and four Democrats represent the state in Congress, while the voter makeup is closer than that. And that has brought complaints from Democrats. In California, the districts tilted more to the left in 2018 than they should have, according to voting results overall.
Perhaps Arizona’s system can be improved. Meanwhile, however, the census done next year is likely to give the state one more member of the U.S. House in 2022 and require major redistricting once again. With Pinal County’s major growth, it will deserve to get more consideration toward being kept as a unit. While that happened to a certain extent last time, much change has occurred since 2010.
The system for creating districts never will be perfect. However, improvements certainly could be made in Arizona and elsewhere. But whatever happens, complaints — and likely lawsuits — will continue.