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MT’s independent redistricting panel dampens partisan conflict

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Big Sky Connection
Helena, MT – Montana's independent redistricting commission has proposed nine maps for the state's two congressional seats. The setup of the commission is designed to ensure the process isn't overly partisan. Comments from Zuri Moreno (they/them), communication strategist, Fair Maps Montana.


Click on the image for the audio. Democratic commissioners have proposed five maps for Montana's two congressional seats, and Republicans have proposed four. (olinchuk/Adobe Stock)

 

Eric Tegethoff

October 7, 2021

HELENA, Mont. -- Montana's redistricting commission has released proposed maps for Montana's two new congressional seats, and the commission's independent nature could foster cooperation across party lines during the process.

The Districting and Apportionment Commission is made up of two members chosen by Republican leaders, two by Democratic leaders and a chair chosen by the Montana Supreme Court. In most states, the Legislature takes on the task of redrawing voting districts.

Zuri Moreno, communication strategist for Fair Maps Montana, said it often means partisan politics overshadow the process.

"This independent commission is offering us this rare sight at a decision-making body that's prioritizing collaboration and data and Montana communities over single-party politics," Moreno asserted. "And I think that it's the single-party politics that we would see if partisan entities were in charge of making these decisions."

Redistricting has added significance this year because Montana is gaining a second congressional seat. The state has had just one since 1993. The commission advanced nine proposed plans for the shape of the districts, for which the public can submit comments. The commission's final congressional map hearing is on Oct. 19.

Moreno underscored how important the process of drawing voting maps is for ensuring people's votes count.

"Maps that are fair and competitive make sure that candidates are competing for our vote," Moreno contended. "And we get to decide, instead of having a map that decides for us."

The commission could propose a final map by the end of the month. Elections for Montana's two U.S. House seats will be in 2022. Montana is among seven states with commissions designed for partisan balance, and give commissioners the final word for approving districts.



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