As the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) deliberates the next ten years of political representation in Arizona, this week’s meetings have shown that the Republican commissioners are prioritizing the input of land developer association Southern Arizona Leadership Council (SALC) over the voices of citizens of the Navajo Nation and Latinos in Southern Arizona. Republican Commissioner David Mehl is an influential member of SALC and repeatedly championed a draft map submitted by his organization. Mehl went as far as suggesting the IRC approve an official draft map that incorporated SALC’s proposed legislative districts wholesale.
The Independent Redistricting Commission can decide where lines are drawn, but they can’t decide to ignore the Arizona Constitution while drawing them. The IRC is required by our constitution to comply with the Voting Rights Act when creating fair and competitive maps. The last-minute maneuver by Commissioner Mehl showed his willingness to prioritize GOP interests over fair representation for Arizona voters, which is completely counter to the spirit of the Independent Redistricting Commission. The IRC must listen to the Indigenous leaders who are advocating for their community’s freedom to vote and their right to fair representation in Arizona’s legislature. There is still time to get this right and we hope the IRC follows its constitutional duties to do so.