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Colorado's Congressional Redistricting Enters Home Stretch With Approval Of New Map

The map chosen by the independent redistricting commission is now heading to the state Supreme Court for review.
Courtesy Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission
The map chosen by the independent redistricting commission is now heading to the state Supreme Court for review.

After seven rounds of voting and some late-night drama, Colorado is a big step closer to having a new map of congressional districts.

A politically diverse committee that has spent half a year vetting the boundaries for Colorado’s U.S. House districts voted 11-1 just before midnight on Tuesday to send a map to the state Supreme Court.

They reached a consensus minutes before a self-imposed deadline.

The commission’s preferred plan calls for the new eighth congressional House district to stretch from Greeley down to north Denver.

This district, which Colorado is gaining because of its growing population in the latest census count, would be almost 40% Hispanic and is projected to be the most competitive district in the upcoming 2022 election.

It also creates a map where Democrats and Republicans are each favored to win three seats each, with the remaining two projected to be tossups.

View an interactive map by clicking here.

Other highlights from the map include:

  • Moving Jackson and Routt counties from the 3rd District to the 2nd District, which would stretch from northwest Colorado to Boulder County.
  • Keeping the state’s seven U.S. House incumbents living in their respective districts.

Commissioners labeled the map a compromise that was carefully crafted after input from thousands of residents. Some of the commission members also got emotional when they reached a consensus that had at times seemed out of grasp during a six-hour meeting.

“Despite the proverbial bumps in the road that we have shared, I would not have missed it,” commissioner Lori Schell, an unaffiliated voter in Durango, said of the rigorous redistricting process. “Together we have changed the course of congressional redistricting in Colorado, and provided an example for the rest of the country.”

This is the first time an independent group has handled the map-drawing efforts. Colorado voters overwhelming supported a ballot measure aiming to keep partisanship out of the process by handing over control to the commission.

Still, commissioners have faced several speed bumps on their journey to pick a map.

Those have included delays in census data and a successful effort to remove the first chair of the commission from his leadership role because of political posts he made on social media.

The state Supreme Court will start reviewing the proposed map on Oct. 1. It will take effect starting in next year’s elections.

Scott Franz is an Investigative Reporter with KUNC.