The redistricting commission reconvenes Tuesday and has until Sept. 6 to redraw lines for Idaho's two congressional and 35 legislative districts.
“The Commission was designed to be bi-partisan, so that Commissioners would separate themselves from their parties’ desires, and do what is best for all Idahoans, not Republican Idahoans, or Democratic Idahoans," said league spokeswomen Kathryn Bonzo and Susan Steele in a statement provided the Statesman. "We urge you to come up with a plan that keeps communities of interest together and keeps counties whole as much as possible.”
The evenly divided panel of six commissioners was off last week.
Commissioners have been finger-pointing, accusing one another of partisan motives in guest opinions submitted to Idaho newspapers.
In 1994, 64 percent of voters passed a constitutional amendment creating the commission. The Legislature had decided that having lawmakers draw the lines was an unnecessary distraction and created the bipartisan panel. The Idaho GOP now says, however, that the power to draw lines should be returned to the Legislature.
If the commission fails to agree on a plan by Sept. 6, the matter would come before the five-member Idaho Supreme Court. Among the court's options could be to order the commission back to work, appoint a special master to draw maps subject to court approval, or draw their own maps.
The news release from the League of Women Voters
The League of Women Voters of Idaho has sent a message to the members of the Idaho Redistricting Commission, urging them to come to a compromise quickly to avoid having the redistricting plan go to the Supreme Court.
In their message, Spokespersons Kathryn Bonzo and Susan Steele reminded the Commissioners that the Idaho League was a strong proponent of Idaho’s adopting a procedure in which a Citizens Commission instead of the Legislature would accomplish the reapportionment. They said, “We would hope that your Commission could do the difficult job without the action of the court.”
They further said, “The Commission was designed to be bi-partisan, so that Commissioners would separate themselves from their parties’ desires, and do what is best for all Idahoans, not Republican Idahoans, or Democratic Idahoans… We urge you to come up with a plan that keeps communities of interest together and keeps counties whole as much as possible.”
The League also recognizes that there are legitimate disagreements about the primacy of the Constitution over state law, but urged the Commissioners to find a way to compromise so that the task can be completed without going to court.
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