It had been hoped that the bipartisan redistricting committee would make maps free of partisan bias, without gerrymandering, and with bipartisan support. But only one of the three congressional plans received votes from both Democratic and Republican committee members, and only one of the state Senate maps received bipartisan support. None of the three maps for the New Mexico House of Representatives received any Republican votes.
We recommend backing the maps with some support from all factions of the committee.
Bipartisan support was easier when it came to the Public Education Commission: No one voted against any of those three maps.
On Oct. 29, the committee released its report, which includes an evaluation by an outside expert. Although few maps garnered bipartisan support on the committee, the expert found that all the recommended plans met standards of partisan fairness.
The report included a number of metrics, such as for the number of counties and municipalities that would be split by each map. No metric was given for splits of Native American nations and their subdivisions.
Such a perspective likely would have been given more consideration if a Native American had been on the panel. The panel composition has been criticized for other aspects of lack of diversity.
On Oct. 15 and 20, New Mexico’s Citizen Redistricting Committee chose maps of new district lines for elections to the U.S. House of Representatives, the state House and Senate, and the Public Education Commission.
Here is an overview of the maps they adopted. All of these maps are described and can be seen in detail on the CRC web site.
The basic idea of this map is to maintain the status quo with minimal change. The former District 1 peninsula in Valencia County would be in District 2. The northern part of Bernalillo County is moved to District 1. District 2 remains southern and District 3, northern.
This plan received no support from committee members appointed by the legislative majority leaders (Dems).
The highest proportion of voting-age Hispanics is in District 2, with 51.5 percent.
We support this congressional plan, mainly because it has the broadest support. It also is compact, splits relatively few counties, and respects communities of interest.
The word “revised” refers to adjustments made by Chairman Edward L. Chávez to take into consideration certain Native American concerns.
In this map, District 1 would become an urban district, focused on Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. District 2 would remain southern and District 3 northern, but the boundary would shift south to account for the relatively faster population growth in the south, with District 3 absorbing Torrance, Guadalupe, and Lincoln Counties, as well as parts of Cibola, Socorro, Otero, and Roosevelt Counties.
The highest proportion of voting-age Hispanics is in District 2, with 54.4 percent.
This plan was adopted 6-1.
This is the only congressional plan with support from all three factions (Dem, GOP and other). Thus, it appears to come closest to embodying the principles of fair redistricting supported by the state party platform. This plan was also supported by several officers at a recent Adelante business meeting.
This is the most controversial plan among members of the public.
It splits not only Bernalillo County, but also the city of Albuquerque, among multiple Congressional districts. District 1 combines most of Albuquerque with a large rural area, going as far southeast as Roswell and Dexter.
In this plan, nine counties are partly in one Congressional district, partly in another. This is a drawback, as the redistricting statute specifies that it is better if maps follow existing natural and administrative boundaries and thus do not split counties. By contrast, Concept A splits only four counties and Concept E-revised splits six.
With this map, two U.S. representatives could conceivably come from Albuquerque and all three could come from the Albuquerque metro area. Or all three could come from elsewhere in the state.
The highest proportion of voting-age Hispanics is in District 2, with 55.9 percent.
The creators of Concept H said their goal was to create a solidly Hispanic district in Congressional District 2. But the proportion of voting-age Hispanics is in District 2 is only 1.5 percentage points more than in the modified Plan E.
This plan garnered no Republican support.
Of the plans for the New Mexico Senate, only one map gained bipartisan support. That was A-1. We support this map for that reason.
This map avoids splitting Hobbs and other southeastern cities but maintains two majority Hispanic districts there. In the northwest, it follows a proposal from the Navajo Nation, maintaining relatively strong Native representation. Elsewhere it makes changes called for by public comment: Edgewood, Chaparral, and the Albuquerque International District are not split between districts, and in Albuquerque north of I-40, the Rio Grande is used as a hard boundary between districts.
In this map, Hobbs and Artesia are split; there are two majority-Hispanic districts in the southeast, based in Hobbs and Roswell. Compared to map A-1, there are various changes in the Las Cruces and Sunland Park areas, and on the west side of Albuquerque, Districts 23 and 26 shift to run more north-south. This map also differs from A-1 and C-1 in the northwest.
Plan C had no votes from the Democrats in the committee.
This map was derived from Concept C by integrating Native American input on the northwest (where it agrees with map A-1).
Plan C-1 had no support from Republicans.
NONE of the three maps for the New Mexico House received any Republican support.
This map differs from the status quo in several ways: The pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh north of Española, is moved (at its request) to a different district. In south-central New Mexico, the Mescalero Apache are placed (at their suggestion) in a district with Ruidoso and the mountain areas of Lincoln County rather than with Alamogordo and Tularosa.
The map also adjusts a number of boundaries in the southeast, to try to maintain as many of the current majority-Hispanic districts as feasible, but this goal is complicated by a probable undercount of Hispanics in the 2020 census. And other district boundaries are changed to accommodate public comment on communities of interest which should not be split among districts. The map also reflects input from the New Mexico Acequia Association.
In most of the state, this map tries to retain the status quo with minor adjustments. Some changes are made to align it with the ‘Pueblo consensus’ map of the northwest.
Like concept I-1, this map follows the status quo (with adjustments) in most of the state. In the northwest, it follows input from the Navajo Nation.
All plans adopted for the Public Education Commission had broad support. Concept C had one abstention. The rest were passed unanimously.
The committee was created by Senate Bill 304, in the 2021 legislative session, to prepare new maps, using data from the 2020 federal census. The committee’s task is to gather public input and submit maps to the state Legislature for final action.
The committee consists of some Democrats, some Republicans, and some members affiliated with neither party. Recommendations from the New Mexico First Redistricting Task Force, which preceded creation of the committee, included using model legislation that would have required bipartisan support. Such bipartisan support is required in California and Michigan.
Learn more about the maps and the committee at New Mexico Citizen Redistricting Committee.
The Legislature can simply adopt one of the plans forwarded by the committee, but it is not obligated to do so. Instead, it can adjust the maps or start from scratch. The special session for redistricting is planned for December.
Many local jurisdictions also need to be redistricted. For example, Bernalillo County has also started its process. You can learn more at Bernalillo County Redistricting.
Bottom Line — What to Tell Your Legislators
Adelante has taken no formal position on any of these maps.
But we think the legislature should adopt the plans with bipartisan support.
And you can and should contact your legislators on your own behalf, and urge them to adopt the maps you prefer. If you don’t have a preference, urge them to adopt one of the maps submitted to the legislature by the Citizen Redistricting Committee, preferably one with bipartisan support, rather than replacing them with a map drawn by the Legislature.
The voters should choose their legislators, not the other way around.
— Maurreen Skowran and Michael Sperberg-McQueen