It’s a long way to the finish line, but here’s a piece of good political news: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today approved as submitted a proposed constitutional amendment that would establish an independent citizens commission to draw boundaries of state legislative and congressional districts in Arkansas.
The proposal was submitted by Little Rock lawyer David Couch and is identical to one approved for the ballot two years ago, but not acted on.
The Board of Apportionment — governor, secretary of state and attorney general — currently draws state legislative districts after the Census. The legislature draws congressional districts. In 2011, that put Democrats in control. In 2021, Republicans would be in control based on current representation.
Couch’s proposal, which is similar to bipartisan approaches adopted in other states, would place a new seven-member commission in charge of both. Four members would be appointed by the House and Senate majority and minority leaders. Those four would then name the other three, none of whom could have a party affiliation in voter registration. Recent elected officials and lobbyists couldn’t serve.
Couch says he’s confident funders exist to support a petition drive and adoption of the proposal in November 2020, in time to be used for redistricting in 2021. He said he’d polled the issue previously and it enjoyed broad majority support, including among Republican voters.
Here’s a discussion of the issue, which has supporters and opponents. It’s seen as a cure to gerrymandering, a practice both major political parties have engaged in.