The SDRtThing2Do committee is working the Brown County Fair to pitch Amendment T, the proposal to get rid of gerrymandering by empowering an independent redistricting commission to draw our legislative maps. Spokesman Matt Sibley from Huron took three minutes this noon to explain how Amendment T works… and perhaps amazingly, doesn’t say the word gerrymandering once:
Sibley emphasizes that allowing legislators to draw their own districts constitutes a conflict of interest. Last week, Amendment T opponent Jason Ravnsborg from Yankton told SDPB Radio that there is not conflict of interest, and that if we voters don’t like how legislators draw their own maps, “we can vote them out of office.” Ravnsborg misses Sibley’s point: if legislators can take advantage of this conflict of interest to draw lines that separate them from voters who don’t like them and surround them with voters who do, then the voters who are ill-served by those conflictually drawn boundaries never get a chance to vote the turkeys who drew those boundaries out.
Important technical notes on Amendment T:
- As Sibley says, Amendment T leaves in place the decennial redistricting schedule. We’ll redraw the legislative map every ten years, the year after each census. But Amendment T also provides that we would do one special redistricting in 2017. If we pass T, we will draw new Legislative districts for the 2018 election.
- Sibley’s statement that the independent redistricting commission would consist of three Republicans, three Democrats, and three others isn’t perfectly accurate. As I pointed out in my first read of Amendment T in July 2015, the exact language of the proposal—”No more than three members of the commission shall be members of the same political party”—does not guarantee a 3–3–3 split. The Board of Elections could name two Republicans, two Democrats, a Libertarian, a Constitutionist, a Green (you guys are petitioning to form a new party, right?), and two independents. My opponent in the District 3 Senate race has feigned concern that that provision could allow partisan rigging of the independent redistricting commission; I remain convinced that the mapping criteria written into Amendment V make it far harder for even a rigged commission to rig the election map than it is for partisan legislators under the current system.