At Fair Districts New Mexico our goal is to make the 2021 redistricting process fair – “fair” as in reflective of the wishes of the electorate, as opposed to fair in the eyes of select politicians. This organization is frequently asked, paraphrased, “What makes 2021 any different from every other year in which redistricting has come and gone, behind closed doors, with little to no public input?” In short, this year and next, substantial portions of the electorate, party affiliation aside, are watching closely.
This is a banner year for redistricting in New Mexico. Across the political spectrum, the electorate has engaged and the electorate is watching. Such tremendous public outcry to place redistricting in the hands of the people has never before happened in New Mexico.
On July 27, a statewide redistricting webinar hosted by Retake Our Democracy drew 213 registrants. Albuquerque’s Sens. Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Mark Moores received accolades for speaking frankly about gerrymandering in a large venue and in a way not heard before in New Mexico.
To date, we continue to discover tremendous knowledge and commitment to redistricting reform among our Legislature, most recently at the bipartisan Women’s Legislative Caucus, whose executive committee has stated its caucus’s support.
New Mexico organizations statewide are staking their interest in redistricting reform, too. Twenty prominent organizations have joined Fair Districts New Mexico in support of redistricting reform in the 2021 cycle. Some partners comprising Fair Districts New Mexico: New Mexico Ethics Watch, League of Women Voters of New Mexico, Save Our Western Way of Life, NAACP Doña Ana County, New Mexico First and the American Civil Liberties Union New Mexico. Nationally, we are partnered by the Brennan Center for Justice, the Election Reformers Network and the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.
The groups that have joined this effort are not seeking any party advantage, but rather are driving to place the responsibility of redistricting in the hands of the people, where it belongs. These groups, and an increasing number of legislators, want to right a wrong which has led to disempowerment for far too long.
It is not a stretch to say that gerrymandering in our state has oftentimes fit the criteria of institutional racism. Native Americans and Hispanics alike have suffered the effects of gerrymandering in New Mexico. Without sufficient reform, they will continue to. This is a wrong to be righted.
In 2021 the Legislature again grapples with redistricting, presenting the opportunity in New Mexico to right a wrong inflicted upon Americans even since long before New Mexico was a state; since the founding of this country. The U.S. Congress at that time probably hadn’t even an inkling of what a New Mexican might be, one day, much less the tenacity of one.
The N.M. Legislature holds the power to right this wrong in 2021, putting an end to the infliction of gerrymandering upon New Mexicans.
The 2020 N.M. Redistricting Task Force will make recommendations to the 2021 N.M. Legislature. Applications for the Task Force are being accepted from legislators and the community alike until Sept. 5. More information at www.nmfirst.org.