Following each decennial Census, the Legislature redraws the districts for New Mexico’s delegation to the United States House of Representatives, the state House of Representatives, the state Senate and other state bodies requiring districting.
In this redistricting cycle, New Mexico is trying something new: an independent public body tasked to draw fair maps and to recommend those maps to the Legislature. The newly created Citizen Redistricting Committee was established earlier this year through the Legislature’s enactment of the Redistricting Act. This committee will independently develop electoral district maps and propose those maps to the Legislature for adoption at an upcoming special legislative session for redistricting.
To this end, the Citizen Redistricting Committee must hold meetings across New Mexico to receive public input on fair maps. The committee then will draw district maps without considering either partisan advantage or the protection of incumbents – considerations that, in the public’s view, might influence legislatively controlled redistricting and unfairly affect the outcome of the resulting elections. When drawing district maps, for example, the committee may not use data about New Mexicans’ voting history or party registration – unless to ensure that district maps comply with federal law.
The seven-member Citizen Redistricting Committee must be comprised of major-party and non-major-party members. The legislative leadership of both major parties will each appoint two members to the committee. Two seats on the committee are reserved for independents, or decline-to-state voters, or members of minor parties, for example Greens, Libertarians, Working Families. These two non-major-party members are appointed by the State Ethics Commission, which also appoints the committee’s chair, who must be a retired justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court or a retired New Mexico Court of Appeals judge. Members are eligible for per diem and shall serve until the committee submits district maps to the Legislature.
The State Ethics Commission is now seeking applications from New Mexican voters who are interested in redistricting and are either independents or members of minor parties. The commission is also seeking applications for the chair position. The State Ethics Commission will accept applications until May 21. On June 4, at a public meeting, the state ethics commissioners will interview the applicants and, following the interviews, vote to appoint three members to the new redistricting committee.
For more information on the Citizen Redistricting Committee or to apply for either a non-major-party position or the chair position, please visit the commission’s website: www.sec.state.nm.us. Individuals with questions about applying may also contact State Ethics Commission staff at email@example.com.”>href=”http://ethics.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org.