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Monday might have been a national holiday, but it was a workday for the Colorado Supreme Court. In a 5-2 ruling yesterday, it rebuffed the effort by the state’s General Assembly to add more direction to Colorado’s independent redistricting commissions work; refining the definition of what “necessary census data” means.

Colorado state redistricting hearing before Colorado Supreme Court. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

The bill (SB 21-247 ) had the support of the Colorado Attorney General, the Secretary of State Jena Griswold, Governor Jared Polis, along with near-unanimous support from the state’s 100 legislators, in an attempt to request that the completion of the new election redistricting maps be delayed to include the actual 2020 Census data, which the General Assembly termed “necessary census data”.

The census was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic delays, and deadlines by which data is available were also delayed for that reason. Specifically, supporters of the bill want the redistricting commissions to wait for the actual 2020 Census data before completing the maps. But the redistricting commissions announced they want to complete the maps by the end of June 2021.

Specifically, the Colorado Supreme Court said the lawmakers’ bill that would change this year’s redistricting process (newly approved by voters in 2018) amounts to an unconstitutional infringement on the redistricting commissions’ authority. That responsibility to determine how to redraw the state’s political maps is a once-in-a-decade assignment

The ruling as covered in this Ark Valley Voice May 18 news story, affects the lawmakers’ attempt to change a few parts of the process.  But the ramifications have a broader effect. First, they reinforce that Colorado voters passed a redistricting system in 2018 that protects the commissions from the influence of the state’s politicians. Second, they set a precedent that redistricting commissions aren’t to be meddled with. But third, they also establish a doubtful precedent that our Colorado election districts are being drawn with old, and probably inaccurate information.