DENVER, COLO. - There are a lot of ballot measures to consider this year. And I know all too well how overwhelming it can be to keep up with all of the rhetoric about each issue.
But two stand out to me as simply making sense for Colorado.
Amendments Y and Z aim to put fair and effective representation at the forefront of congressional and legislative redistricting. This matters tremendously to how we as Coloradans are represented by those who we elect and it is time to do what’s right instead of fighting about who’s right.
Gerrymandering is at the center of courtroom and political fights across the United States, but Colorado stands poised to protect itself from this dangerous practice.
As an unaffiliated voter, I often feel like my views are not considered seriously in a world of partisan politics. Additionally, almost 40 percent of Colorado voters are just like me and have chosen to be unaffiliated. That’s the largest and fastest growing voting group in our state, yet we have little — if any — input on the current redistricting process.
Amendment Y changes how we draw congressional districts, a process currently controlled by the legislature; while Amendment Z tackles legislative redistricting — currently handled by a commission appointed by legislative leaders, the governor and the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court.
Amendments Y and Z create evenly divided 12-person independent commissions with four unaffiliateds, four Democrats and four Republicans. That means, for the first time, unaffiliated voters will have an equal say in this process.
It can also become a model for the rest of the nation to use as they work out their own gerrymandering issues. It is yet another example of Colorado leading on election-related reforms that put people before partisan politics.
These measures also require a supermajority (eight of 12) of commissioners to approve final maps that must include at least two of the unaffiliateds to ensure there isn’t partisan gamesmanship by the two larger parties.
Amendments Y and Z are looking out for voters by limiting the roles of partisans and putting the interests of Colorado and its communities first.
Colorado is a “purple” state and should have the benefit of more competitive districts designed to represent the interests of a majority of voters and not merely protect incumbents or a particular political party.
Y and Z call on the independent commission to create competitive districts, meaning that elections will be about performance, rather than safe seats for one party or another.
Backroom efforts to gerrymander maps around the country have diminished public confidence in the redistricting process and political parties and this in turn erodes public confidence in elected representatives.
With Y and Z, maps will be drawn in the open, with rules in place that expressly prohibit gerrymandering and call for increased fairness and transparency.
You can learn more about the measures by visiting Fair Maps Colorado .
Amendments Y and Z were created with numerous checks and balances to make sure that redrawing of congressional and legislative districts is done with the best interests of Colorado — not political insiders — in mind.
Put another way: Amendments Y and Z will make sure that voters choose their politicians, not the other way around.
To date, more than 400 individuals and organizations have signed on with their support, including all living Colorado governors, chambers of commerce from all over the state and dozens of current and former elected officials across the political spectrum.
As constitutional amendments, both measures will need 55 percent support to pass, so every vote is critical if we hope to enact these important reforms prior to the next Census in 2020.
As an experienced election official for over 13 years here in Colorado who has tirelessly pursued reforms that benefit all voters regardless of party affiliation, I understand specifically how important it is to establish fair processes throughout the election process.
Please join me and Vote YES on Amendments Y and Z.
Editor's Note: This article originally published in The Colorado Sun and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN.