The Fair Districts Fair Elections Campaign Committee confirmed last week that its petitions have been certified by the Secretary of State, officially placing the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission Initiative on the November general election ballot. The initiative will be Proposition 106.
"This is an important milestone," said Campaign Coordinator Cheryl Kulas. "As we've seen with other initiatives this summer, filing petitions doesn't necessarily mean being on the ballot. So, we're pleased to make it official."
Proposition 106 is a proposed constitutional amendment that will take away from elected state legislators the once-a-decade responsibility for redrawing Arizona's legislative and congressional district lines and gives responsibility to a politically neutral committee of five appointed citizens. Volunteer and paid circulators gathered nearly a quarter of a million signatures to put the measure on this November's ballot.
"With Proposition 106, the citizens of Arizona have the opportunity to reclaim a fundamental building block of the representative democracy," said Committee Chairman Jim Pederson. "This initiative takes the redistricting process away from self-interested legislators and puts it in the hands of independent citizens where it rightfully belongs."
To assure partisan neutrality, the initiative requires that no more than two resident appointees be from the same political party. In addition, the initiative states that no resident can serve who, in the past three years, has been an elected or appointed official, served on a candidate's campaign committee, or been a paid lobbyist.
The initiative was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause and today is endorsed by 18 organizations from across the state including the Arizona Education Association, Arizona 75th Town Hall, and the Greater Phoenix Leadership.
Ann Eschinger, president of the Arizona League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, said local chapters throughout the state would be campaigning for passage of Proposition 106.
Despite only a four-percent difference between the number of registered Republicans and registered Democrats in Arizona, out of 30 legislative districts, there is only one where the difference in party registration is within 5 percent. Districts are often drawn in oddly configured patterns to protect political parties and politicians.
"I'm pleased that Arizona voters will have the opportunity to make a decision about this important issue this fall," Pederson said. "Whether you're from a rural area, from Tucson, or from metropolitan Phoenix, Proposition 106 helps your community get better representation in Congress and the legislature. Since we began this effort last fall, we've worked hard to keep up with all of the support and enthusiasm that has come together behind this simple reform.