Report from the Special Session on Redistricting

NM House Map

What happens when “traditional redistricting principles” meet the legislative process (and before you ask, no, “gerrymandering” does not count as a traditional redistricting principle)

By Michael Sperberg-McQueen. 18 December 2021, last revised 28 December 2021.

The New Mexico Legislature has just concluded its 2021 special session on redistricting, and bills have gone to the governor for signature drawing new district maps for New Mexico’s Congressional delegation, for the New Mexico state Senate, for the state House of Representatives, and for the Public Education Commission.

This report focuses on what happened. Why it happened, its implications, and some of the issues raised in debate, are also worth contemplating but are not considered here. It mostly tries to confine itself to facts. Where it does stray into opinion, any opinions expressed are those of the author.

Executive Summary

The end results can be summarized as follows.

  • The map adopted for districts of the Public Education Commission is very close to one of the maps recommended by the Citizen Redistricting Committee (CRC), and all changes were well explained and well reasoned. View PEC Map.

  • The Congressional map is broadly similar to one of the maps recommended by the CRC but different in many ways, without explanations or reasons being given for any of the changes. The map scores worse than any of the CRC maps on objective measures of bias. View Congressional Map.

  • The House map is based on one of the maps recommended by the CRC but has been modified to reflect a Native American consensus, which was achieved only after the CRC had finished its work; The House map is otherwise identical to the base map (CRC House map E-1). View House Map.

  • The Senate map is described by its sponsor as not based on any one of the maps recommended by the CRC, and in most of the state it resembles none of them. The map as introduced had the support of the Native American consensus. Changes made by a committee were opposed by the tribes and were partially undone later. The final result does have Native American support. View Senate Map.

  • The Legislature took active steps to make proposed new maps available for public inspection even before they were adopted, so that the public could follow the discussion of proposed amendments.

  • An indeterminate but clearly large part of the legislative consideration of maps took place outside public view.

The rest of this report offers more details on the chain of events that led to these results.

READ MORE

Adelante Calls on Legislature to Enact Fair Redistricting

This summer and fall, the first New Mexico Citizen Redistricting Committee worked to develop three maps each for the U.S. House, the N.M. House, the N.M. Senate, and the N.M. Public Education Commission. The committee was fair and rational, and it encouraged and listened to public input. All plans approved by the committee were found by an expert to meet standards of partisan fairness.

The Legislature should respect the work done by the redistricting committee, and approve the committee’s best maps.

As a partner of Fair Districts New Mexico (FDNM), Adelante supports the requests the FDNM makes of the Legislature. Legislators are expected to meet Dec. 6 for the special session on redistricting. While working out redistricting plans, the Legislature should follow the letter and spirit of the Open Meetings Act.

Ideally, the Legislature should choose from among the committee-approved plans the one that best balances compliance with the Voting Rights Act; freedom from partisan gerrymandering; protection of communities of interest; respect for governmental boundaries, including tribal boundaries; and avoiding favoring incumbents.    

But if the Legislature deviates from the committee-approved plans, the Legislature must explain how its map is better — according to traditional districting principles.

Legislators should be chosen by voters — not the other way around.

*** See our review of the approved CRC maps ***

Tell Us Your Priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session

We’re getting a jump on the 2022 session!

Some of us have been working for months and we know others have been as well on various upcoming bills. One of the best ways to get legislation through is a diverse and coordinated effort. Our Political Director, Athena Christodoulou, has put together a poll to help our organization and focus. Meetings will be on Sundays beginning Dec 5. Join us, Adelante!

*** Take Our 2022 Pre-Legislative Issue Poll ***

Blue Hydrogen Briefing
By Tom Solomon

This Blue Hydrogen Briefing explains the various “colors” of hydrogen — gray, blue and green.

Find out why the fossil fuel interests are promoting it.

Also learn where hydrogen should and should NOT be used in our energy system.

Tom also covers the risks of the NM proposal to convert the Escalante coal plant to hydrogen.

Adelante All-Member Meeting
Thursday, February 3
6:30 p.m.

More details

Zoom Link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2263087005

Legislative Action Teams
Sunday, January 30
4:00 p.m.

More details

Zoom Link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2263087005

Executive Committee Meeting
Tuesday, February 1
6:30 p.m.
More details

Zoom Link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2263087005