In ordinary circumstances, the most politically safe and easy course of action is to do nothing. On the other hand, it’s especially risky to foment actions that would alter the outcomes of voter initiatives.
In the case of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, it’s important to conclude one way or another whether the intent and desires of the voters have been violated. If they have been, we should provide voters the mechanism with which to fix the situation. It’s obvious to me the process was hijacked. That being the case, it is more than appropriate to give voters a chance to remedy this injustice.
The voters approved the creation of a transparent, fair and open process with give and take on both sides. It was to be chaired by someone willing to give deference to all sides. There was to be as much political balance as possible and, of course, adherence to the Constitution and to the law.
The commission was supposed to include two Republicans, two Democrats and one independent chair. Considering how the final version of the maps turned out, it is impossible to argue that the IRC followed that model. It is a fact that the chair voted almost exclusively with Democrats and only twice with the Republicans, one of those times only because a Republican commissioner was threatened to vote yes or “the maps will get worse.” The chair voted with Democrats to enlist the services of Strategic Telemetry (a firm with established ties to high profile Democrats, including President Obama) and approved the Democrat legal counsel while rejecting counsel recommended by Republicans.
The original Prop 106 language approved by the voters prescribed a process to avoid this type of partisan outcome. Any reasonable, non-partisan and fair-minded person would have to conclude that the process has failed. How independent can the chair be with that kind of voting record? In reality there were three Democrat votes, no rural representation and no independents. Financial discrepancies were also apparent so the House had to request an explanation of the IRC budget. Given these facts, if the voters had known this would happen, it’s doubtful they would have passed the initiative in the first place.
Even now there are outstanding issues with the partisan IRC maps, as they have yet to even be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice for pre-clearance. To this day, Arizona still has no official IRC legislative or congressional maps. How long will Arizonans be forced to wait for the maps to be submitted?
At no time should greater effort be expended than when ensuring the transparency and legitimacy of our electoral process. It would be best to simply allow the people to choose: the IRC draft or the alternate map. Vote yes or no. Did the IRC violate the voters trust? At the very least the public will finally get transparency.
For my efforts to shed light on the process, Democrat leadership has sent out a series of vitriolic and abusive emails in an effort to personally attack me. Apparently the idea of debating issues and refraining from the use of abusive attacks, in the name of civility, only applies to Republicans.
— Andy Tobin, a Republican from Paulden, is speaker of the House of Representatives.