Legislative lines in need of refining

Anyone who thinks it’s easy to divide Colorado into 35 roughly equal state Senate districts and 65 House districts is sadly mistaken.

One must not only balance the districts in terms of population, but consider how minority ethnic groups will be affected, attempt to keep each district politically competitive and seek to mainatain communities of interest — districts in which the inhabitants share many of the same geographic and cultural interests.

That’s a complicated undertaking, to say the least. It’s why the bipartisan, 11-member Colorado Reapportionment Commission deserves credit for working deliberately over many months in an attempt to develop fair districts for the entire state.

However, good efforts don’t guarantee satisfactory results. We expressed our concerns in September about the proposed new House map that placed Loma and De Beque in a separate House district from the other parts of Mesa County.

This week, the Colorado Supreme Court rejected the Reapportionment Commission’s proposed legislative districts for a similar reason: failing to give adequate consideration to county boundaries, especially on the Front Range.

In attempting to balance demographic issues such as the growth in the state’s Latino poulation, the commission violated the Colorado Constitution that decrees how counties may be divided.

The high court sent the commission back to the drawing board to come up with new district maps. It’s unfortunate that a lot of hard work was undone with that decision. But it’s certainly welcome that the court reiterated the importance of county boundaries and communities of interest in establishing legislative districts.


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