Briefs

Carving up voting districts: First drafts of redistricting maps due out this week

By: - September 15, 2021 6:30 am

A map of the New Mexico House of Representatives districts. (Courtesy NM Legislature)

Members of the public will get their first look this week at maps that could become the new political boundaries in New Mexico. 

How those boundaries are drawn plays a large role in how political power is distributed. When politicians shape the districts so one party always has the advantage, that’s gerrymandering. Redistricting fights in the state Legislature got ugly in the past, and they’ve resulted in lawsuits, like 10 years ago when people sued the state, accusing officials of diluting “minority voting strength, and denial of equal protection of the laws.” 

The maps coming out in 2021 are concepts produced by staff of the newly created Citizen Redistricting Commission in response to weeks of public meetings across the state and online. Around 1,200 people weighed in virtually and in-person during those meetings, according to a news release. 

The citizen-led commission is still deciding what maps to propose to the state Legislature, which has the final say in how the state and federal political districts in New Mexico are carved up. The commission will hold a meeting Thursday at 3 p.m. via Zoom to get public input on the concept maps.

Scroll through the concept maps from the Citizen Redistricting Committee.

The once-a-decade redistricting process comes after the 2020 census, which found population increases here near the Permian Basin and in urban areas. The state was one of the slowest-growing in the West, having increased its population by just 2.8% in the last decade, according to census figures. 

The state Legislature this year tasked a seven-member citizen committee to hold public input sessions on how best to draw lines through the state in light of demographic shifts and to ensure that every vote is counted equally throughout New Mexico. 

The commission has scheduled nine more public meetings before it proposes its final recommendations to the Legislature. It will adopt its final recommendations at meeting Oct. 15, according to the commission’s website. 

Those who wish to weigh in on the redistricting process can attend meetings in-person or virtually, or they can comment on the commission’s website: NMRedistricting.org

Meetings

These will be held in-person, and they can also be attended via Zoom:

Bernalillo: Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 3p.m. at the Sandoval County Commission Government Administration Building 

Crownpoint: Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 3p.m. at the Navajo Technical University, Wellness Center

Albuquerque: Friday, Oct. 1, at 3 p.m. at the Albuquerque Hispanic Cultural Center

Las Vegas: Saturday, Oct. 2, at 1 p.m. at New Mexico Highlands University, Student Union Building, Governance Room

Las Cruces: Monday, Oct. 4, at 3 p.m. at New Mexico State University, Corbett Student Union Building, Senate Gallery

Silver City: Monday, Oct. 4, at 3 p.m. at Western New Mexico University, Global Resource Center Auditorium

Portales: Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 3 p.m., Eastern New Mexico University, Campus Union Building, Zia Room

Roswell: Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 3 p.m. at Roswell Museum and Art Center, Bassett Auditorium

Albuquerque: Thursday, Oct. 7, at 3 p.m. at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Room Chaco 2

Gallup: Friday, Oct. 8, at 3 p.m. at UNM-Gallup, Calvin Hall, Room 248

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Patrick Lohmann
Patrick Lohmann

Patrick Lohmann has been a reporter since 2007, when he wrote stories for $15 apiece at a now-defunct tabloid in Gallup, his hometown. Since then, he's worked at UNM's Daily Lobo, the Albuquerque Journal and the Syracuse Post-Standard. Along the way, he's won several state and national awards for his reporting, including for an exposé on a cult-like Alcoholics Anonymous group and a feature on an Upstate New York militia member who died of COVID-19. He's thrilled to be back home in New Mexico, where he works to tell stories that resonate and make an impact.

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