The once-a-decade redistricting process is underway in New Mexico. The Citizen Redistricting Committee, newly-established under the 2021 Redistricting Act, is charged with proposing new maps to the legislature. The group began holding its first set of public meetings this week.
The committee will eventually draft 3-5 plans for the districts being redawn this year, including for the U.S. Congress, the state legislature, and the Public Education Commission. The legislature will then select one map, unamended, for each body.
Committee chair and retired state supreme court Justice Edward Chavez said at the first public meeting in Santa Fe on Monday, Aug. 2, that public input is key to developing fair maps. “You know what struggles exist in your communities, you know what similar needs you have and why you want to be included in a single district,” he said. “But we need to hear from you.”
The committee is holding eight meetings across the state before drafting any plans. You can testify in-person or by Zoom, or submit comments on the NM Redistricting Public Comment Portal.
You can also draw your own district map or one based on what’s called “communities of interest” (COI) on the portal. Brian Sanderoff with Research and Polling Inc., said at Monday’s hearing that those are communities marked by things like shared values, culture, economic status or language.
“So people could say, ‘I’m not an expert, I can’t draw a statewide plan, but here’s what I think my community looks like and I’d appreciate it very much if you don’t divide it three ways.’,” he said of drawing-up a COI map rather than a full district plan.
Chavez says the data currently available on the portal is outdated, but the 2020 Census data should be released on August 16 and will be available for map-making then.
The next meetings are scheduled Thursday, Aug. 5, in Las Vegas and Saturday, Aug. 7, in Albuquerque. Find the full schedule here.
The meetings are being streamed live as part of the Your New Mexico Government project, a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS and the Santa Fe Reporter.
Your New Mexico Government is a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS and the Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage comes from the New Mexico Local News Fund, the Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners, with support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.