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Map Commission Meltdown?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    David Parkinson via National Weather Service Data

    Is the much-touted citizens redistricting commission imploding? Quite possibly, at least according to veteran commentators Tony Quinn and Dan Walters.

    Does this matter? Almost certainly not.

    The redistricting commission, which is charged with drawing new legislative and Congressional district lines under ballot initiatives passed in 2008 and 2010, has been behaving a bit erratically.

     The commission had promised to publish a second draft of its proposed maps this month -- then went back on the promise.

    Lines have changed rapidly and dramatically, in response to interest groups' concerns about minority representation in the legislature.

    Critics of the commission suggest the body is also limiting public comment (albeit after months and months of openness and solicitation of public comments across the state).

    The commission, in its defense, has said that it is doing its best to focus on producing the best set of final maps possible -- since they need to be done by August 15. 

    Since this sounds important, why doesn't any of this matter?

    Because legal challenges to the commission's work are inevitable no matter what the body does.

    There are too many competinng interests in redistricting for a commission to accommodate everyone.

    So it was always highly likely that the courts would be the decisionmakers in the end. The state supreme court, in fact, likely will have to step in -- and that's a perfectly acceptable body to be drawing the lines.

    Of course, in that event, the commission might be perceived as a failure, fair or not.

    And that could make it harder to convince voters to adopt other reforms that rely on citizens to tackle difficult problems.