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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    New district map discriminates

    Draft maps for the Arizona redistricting plan have surfaced and, with little to no surprise, people in Southern Arizona are upset. To be more direct, Hispanics are upset. The Hispanic Coalition for Good Government, an advocacy group, believes the district plan would “frustrate the ability of Hispanics to elect a candidate of their choice.”

    Now, before we get too far into the argument, it’s important that when drawing up district lines, you remember that you’re never trying to create a slam dunk district where one party can easily win. The goal is to make competitive districts. Nobody should be able to just lie down and cruise to victory, in theory. With that said, it’s not about making it easy for one group of people to be able to easily elect their candidate. It is not intended to be a guarantee that one group of people can no doubt get its man or woman in the office.

    Getting back to the issue at hand, the proposed map continues to draw a line down Pima County and separate the City of Tucson. Under the old map, Rep. Raul Grijalva had control of midtown, downtown and the university area, while Rep. Gabrielle Giffords controlled the rest of the eastern and northern parts of Tucson. The new map essentially makes Tucson Giffords’ city, and basically her entire district. Giffords’ district, formerly known as District 8 but now drawn up as District 2, used to stretch as far east as the border with New Mexico and contain all of Cochise County as well as the northeastern portion of Santa Cruz County. Instead, her district has been reduced and includes none of Cochise.

    Grijalva’s district commonly referred to as a “majority minority” district due to its large minority population, also shrunk to the northwest. District 3, formerly known as District 7, used to stretch as for north as La Paz County. However, the new plan shrinks the district so that it no longer encompasses any of La Paz and only the southern most portion of Yuma County as well.

    When you look at the demographics, and which parties control the counties, it becomes clear that the proposed plan is not only politically motivated but also is heavily influenced by an attempt to offset the prevalence of minorities in voting. District 2, dominated by an 85 percent Caucasian population, will consume portions of the Hispanic-controlled District 7 and weaken the voice of the minorities there. Districts controlled by Democrats, like District 7 and 8 and slashed and smashed together. And a district known to have competition, District 8, loses its pool of Democratic voters to pull from in order to compete.

    No matter how you want to argue it, in the end you need only to look at the districts and how they’ve transformed to note the inequality they create. The image alone just screams gerrymandering.

    _— Storm Byrd is the Persectives editor for the Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu. _

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