FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - The League of Women Voters of Kentucky is seeking sponsors for legislation that would create a redistricting advisory commission to draw the lines for Kentucky’s next state and federal legislative districts following the 2020 census.
LWV President Fran Wagner explained why they hope to act now, when the census figures won’t be in for at least another year. “If we want to avoid last-minute backroom arrangements agreed to by a few behind closed doors, we must act now to make sure the process is fair and transparent.”
Wagner says this has been a problem in much of the country’s history. “Partisan gerrymandering has allowed legislators to pick their voters, rather than the other way around. That’s not the way it should be.”
She says working with lawmakers and the Legislative Research Commission, they have drafted Kentucky Fair Maps Act. “The Act, when passed into law, will ensure that the process is open and transparent and that districts are drawn fairly.”
Cindy Heine, a redistricting committee member of the League of Women Voters, says what brought the issue to their attention was lawsuits.
“Not only in Kentucky in 2011 and 2012, but also across the country, which ended up at the Supreme Court. In Kentucky it took time and money to solve problems that were done in the redistricting. It wasn’t until 2013 that we had maps.”
According to Heine, “Democrats in Maryland were sued and Republicans in North Carolina were sued for gerrymandering, and those suits went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said, ‘this is a state problem.’ So, here in Kentucky, we want to solve a problem before it occurs.”
Heine says under their proposed legislation, a series of public hearings would take place across the state, where residents could provide input to the commission.
The advisory commission would consist of 15 members, eight of whom would be chosen by both parties in both chambers. The other seven would be named by the eight members, from a list of randomly selected voters.
Now that the measure has been drafted, the League of Women Voters is now looking to find sponsors for the Kentucky Fair Maps Act. Fifteen other states have similar redistricting commissions.