The Importance of Getting it Right: The Redistricting Process

The redistricting process continues, but if history is to serve as our guide, it is far from over. In the 2010 cycle the legislature could not agree on congressional or state legislative district lines — leaving a federal court to draw the lines instead.

What is perhaps the single most tedious part of the process — collection of population and demographic data by the U.S. Census Bureau — is done, with the data now in the hands of the Kansas Legislative Research Department, as well as numerous other entities who develop their own proposals. But the tedium continues, as these outside entities all have their own agenda and will attempt to influence a map that will maximize their political advantage.

Ultimately the final say will fall to the Kansas Legislature, which is tasked with proposing a map of legislative and congressional districts and submitting it for the governor’s approval — or veto. If there is no consensus, it will be back to the courts.

Redistricting is a slow, methodical process by design, as its importance cannot be over emphasized. The fruits of redistricting will determine our representation in Topeka — and Washington — for the next decade. To get the process wrong means the potential disenfranchisement of Kansas citizens by depriving them of a representational voice in government.

Considering the substantial population shifts witnessed in Kansas over the last decade, it is critical to get redistricting right. To preserve fairness in voting rights, these new districts must be compact, contiguous, preserve political subdivisions, and preserve communities of interest. In addition, these new districts cannot be drawn with the intent of diluting minority voting strength. To do otherwise would mean casting all fairness aside.

For updates on the Kansas redistricting process, visit Kansas Voting Data regularly as the debate unfolds.