Colorado's legislative redistricting commissioners voted Friday to reallocate prisoners for the next decade's state House and Senate districts, meaning they'll be counted at their home residence and not where they were jailed during the census.
Colorado’s congressional redistricting commissioners voted Thursday to not reallocate state prisoners in the drawing of the next decade’s congressional map.
The congressional commission's move contradicts a law passed by the state legislature in 2020, which instructs the commissions to count prisoners where they lived before their incarceration.
The law is seen as unenforceable, after the Colorado Supreme Court issued a ruling earlier this year that dramatically narrowed what kinds of laws guiding the redistricting process the legislature can pass, making moot the law in the eyes of attorneys who specialize in political law.
So the decision was up to the commissioners.
The legislative commission voted 10-2 for the idea, passing the plan. The congressional commission voted 6-5 in favor of the idea, but it needed a supermajority, or 8 votes, to pass.
Some of the commissioners charged with redrawing Colorado’s congressional maps have raised objections to a law requiring them to count state prisoners where they lived prior to their incarceration, instead of where they’re incarcerated, drawing sharp responses from commissioners who back the prisoner reallocation law.
Robert Johnson is a Denver resident. The U.S. Census Bureau counts him as living at a state prison. Colorado's redistricting commissioners must decide this week what to do with him and the thousands of others like him.
The legislative redistricting commission also voted to adjust their state Senate maps in order to avoid having incumbent Senators in the beginning of their 4-year term drawn into the same district, which would otherwise lead to some districts possibly with two Senators and some with none, after the 2022 elections.
The congressional commission also voted to adopt a method for evaluating the partisan leaning of districts as they continue to draft and evaluate map ideas.
The congressional commission voted unanimously to use an unweighted average of the following election results to determine what the partisan lean and competitiveness of any proposed district would be:
• 2016 President
• 2016 U.S. Senate
• 2018 Colorado Governor
• 2018 Colorado Attorney General
• 2018 Colorado Colorado Treasurer
• 2018 Colorado Secretary of State
• 2018 CU Regent-at-Large
• 2020 U.S. Senate
The legislative redistricting commission plans to also vote on what they will use to determine partisan leaning of proposed districts — but for the state House and Senate mapping process.
This article has been updated.