Posted by Austin Plier on April 27, 2016
Kansas lawmakers will not redraw the state's congressional and legislative maps until 2022, but already the Legislature's Research Department is meeting with the U.S. Census Bureau regarding data and computer software that will be used to draw district lines. Peter Hancock of the Lawrence Journal-World writes:
"The process can be among the most intensely political actions that state legislatures have to make, with major political parties jockeying for position and incumbent legislators angling to protect themselves in the upcoming elections.
In fact, following the 2010 census, Kansas lawmakers in 2012 were unable to come up with a redistricting plan of their own, and ended up ceding the process to a three-judge federal court panel, which drew the maps that are now in place."
The reason the redistricting process is so contentious largely stems from the fact that single-winner districts are used to elect Kansas's congressional delegation and state legislature. This winner-take-all system leaves the door open to manipulation of district lines by politicians, and many voters feeling as though they don't have a voice on Election Day. Fair representation voting--using ranked choice voting in districts where multiple members are elected--would make the drawing of districts largely irrelevant, as the these fairer districts would be much less susceptible to manipulation. With fair representation voting in place, perhaps elected officials wouldn't already be planning how to draw the very districts in which they are elected six years in advance, and voters would have more trust in the process as well.