Redistricting in Colorado

Every ten years, following the Census, all 50 states undergo a redistricting process to redraw their electoral districts. In 2018, Coloradans voted to pass Amendments Y and Z, which changed the way that electoral and legislative districts are assigned in Colorado. Under the new amendments, starting in 2021, two independent citizen Commissions will be formed to draw district boundaries. Each Commission will be made up of 12 individuals: 4 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and 4 unaffiliated voters.

Read the full text of the amendments for congressional redistricting and legislative redistricting.

Click here to view the timeline and other important information for this redistricting cycle.

Get to Know your Commissioners –  Learn more about the members of the Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission and Legislative Redistricting Commission.

Why does it matter?

Before these amendments were passed, Colorado’s congressional and legislative districts were decided by state politicians. Having powerful elected officials decide our state’s districts is a clear conflict of interests and creates a political environment that contributes to gerrymandering. Creating independent citizen Commissions is one step to ensuring a more fair and equitable process, but the Commissions need to hear from communities to ensure they have the information they need to draw fair maps.

What can nonprofits do to ensure a fair redistricting process?

Advocacy surrounding fair representation and redistricting can take many forms. Engaging your community in the redistricting process is an opportunity to ensure that your community is represented fairly within its new district(s). While lobbying is an important part of this engagement, there are other nonpartisan advocacy-based steps nonprofits can take, such as providing resources and education surrounding redistricting through social media, news releases, op-eds, and on organization websites. Furthermore, nonprofits can meet with elected officials to educate them about broad social problems faced by their constituents due to unfair districting processes. Nonprofits can host virtual townhalls within their communities to answer questions and disseminate resources. A great place to start is determining which commissioners are located in your regions.

Trainings with Colorado Common Cause – Want to learn more about the redistricting process and how to protect your community? Fill out this form for information on trainings and other opportunities to engage.

Submit Public Comment – You are an expert in your community! Submit public comment to tell the commissioners what they should know about your community of interest and encourage others to do the same. This is an integral part of the redistricting process and critical to ensuring our communities are fairly represented. The 20-day public comment period has been extended for the Congressional Commission until May 3 and the Legislative Commission is considering an extension as well.

Additional resources:

    • Learn more about gerrymandering and fair representation from the Brennan Center for Justice.
    • Read more about the impact of redistricting on communities of color from this guide from the NAACP.
    • Explore the mapping process through Representable, the Public Mapping Project, and Districtr.
    • See a comprehensive list of resources surrounding redistricting in Colorado from the Geocivics Department at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
    • Read more about how nonprofits can get involved in the redistricting process from Bolder Advocacy.
    • Learn about how nonprofits in Michigan, another state that has recently reformed their districting process, are engaging citizens in redistricting from Voters Not Politicians.

FAQs

Gerrymandering is a political strategy that involves drawing lines around districts in such a way that benefits a particular political party, incumbent, or candidate. A gerrymandered district does not fairly represent the communities that live there.

Any Coloradan who has voted in the last two general elections and who has maintained their party affiliation for at least five years was eligible to apply to be a commissioner; the application process closed in November of 2020.

The Congressional Commission convened on March 15 and the Legislative Commission convened on March 30. Both commissions are now accepting public comment and will likely extend the 20-day comment period. The commissions will then wait for the Census data before drawing maps and hosting public hearings. Currently we are not expected to have final Census data until September, 2021.

The commissions will have 30-45 days after Census data are released to submit their initial plans. Final maps will be submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court, who will have until December to approve them. Throughout this process, there will be several public hearings and many opportunities for community input.

For a schedule of upcoming meetings and hearings, and a more detailed explanation of the process, click here.

There are several federal criteria for determining districts. Districts must:

  • Have equal population;
  • Be composed of contiguous geographic areas;
  • Comply with the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965;
  • Preserve whole communities of interest; and
  • Be as compact as is reasonably possible.

A community of interest is a group of people with a common set of concerns that could be affected by legislation. Examples of communities of interest include ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups. During the redistricting process, communities of interest should be kept together within the same district to ensure that their voices are heard.

Submitting public comment is an integral part of the redistricting process and an important step to ensuring our communities are fairly represented. You can submit your comments for either commission here or email your comments to email hidden; JavaScript is required

You can view already submitted public comments here.

Learn about other opportunities for public engagement.

Additional public hearings will be held once the census data are released and initial maps are drafted by the commissions. Until then, anyone can attend the commissions’ public meetings and give feedback on the process. This webpage will be updated regularly with upcoming meetings and opportunities for public engagement, so be sure to be checking it regularly.

Yes! The Commissions are required to accept comments and input in other languages and have them translated.

The new district maps will go into effect for the 2022 midterm elections.

Whether Colorado will receive a new congressional district is dependent on the Census data. Colorado is projected to gain an eighth congressional district, but we won’t know for sure until until state level Census data is released in April.

Covid-19 has significantly delayed the entire Census process, including when the data will be available. The current projected dates for the release of 2020 Census data is by April 30, 2021 for population counts for reapportionment and September 30, 2021 for state level data needed for the redistricting process. You can stay up-to-date on this information here.