The issue before the Independent Redistricting Commission right now is the choice of a mapping firm. Three firms have submitted proposals:
- HaystaqDNA LLC
- Taylor English Decisions LLC
- Timmons Group/NDC
It is the opinion of the Arizona Democratic Party that HaystaqDNA is the best-qualified. Indivisible Arizona concurs.
While our strike force has submitted well-reasoned and documented comments on the three proposals, the GQP has flooded the commissioners with cookie-cutter comments opposing the firm favored by Democrats.
NOW is the time to fight fire with fire.
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Subject Line: Comment on Mapping Consultant Contract
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Suggested comments to cut and paste:
A firm called Timmons Group is slated to work with National Demographics Corporation (NDC), a consultant with an alarming track record across the country. NDC’s maps have been rejected or re-done by several courts and redistricting bodies. Here are just a two examples:
· In North Carolina, NDC’s president provided testimony about gerrymandered maps. The judge wrote in the final opinion: “The Court finds Dr. Johnson’s analysis unpersuasive and gives his opinions little weight. Dr. Johnson has testified as a live expert witness in four cases previously, and the courts in all four cases have rejected his analysis.
· When, in Kern County, California, Latino voters were found to have been deprived of an equal opportunity to elect the representatives of their choice, because of under-representation, Doug Johnson submitted testimony to defend those maps, which were overturned for failure to follow California’s laws and requirements for map drawing.
Please make it a condition of the engagement that the firm chosen forego any political or campaign consulting work in Arizona while the maps are being created and for the entire time they are being challenged in court.
Mappers need to be experienced and successful. Redistricting is not accomplished by an algorithm. Experience and people matter! The Commission so far has overlooked experience in hiring an executive director and bypassed the one legal firm that had experience above all others. You should not continue this pattern. Redistricting is always a challenge. 2021 is even more challenging given the delay in receiving census data. Taylor English Decisions LLC and Timmons Group would never be good choices, but this year, with these challenges, they are especially bad choices. Haystaq DNA was the mapper in the 2011 cycle. Their maps were approved by the US Department of Justice for pre-clearance and stood up through multiple lawsuits. In contrast, the maps created by NDC for AZ in the 2000 cycle were not approved and had to be redrawn!
Karin MacDonald is perhaps one of the nation’s true redistricting experts without a legal degree. She also manages the CA Statewide database created by the CA Legislature to house all California related census, voting, registration, and statewide elections data. She would be a tremendous asset to the IRC 2021 team. She is partnering with Haystag. Don’t pass her up!
Timmons Group has ZERO redistricting experience. Timmons is partnering with National Demographics Corporation. Douglas Johnson of the National Demographics Corporation has a terrible track record with previous maps. The maps created in 2001 FAILED the Department of Justice preclearance standards and had to be redrawn. The 2001 Commission failed in its primary task – in large part because of Doug Johnson! Elsewhere in the country, many maps created by NDG/Doug Johnson have been rejected by courts resulting in the need for new maps. With Census data delays, we can’t risk having to re-draw our state’s maps. We need a mapping consultant that has proven they can take on this work successfully.
Taylor English Decisions does not have state-wide or redistricting-specific experience. It has no proven record of taking on the challenges of drafting maps for this crucial process.
Taylor English is a lobbying/campaign firm. They would be in the position of drawing new districts for past, present of future clients. This is unacceptable and flies in the face of and undermines the call to “apply the provisions in an honest, independent and impartial fashion to uphold public confidence in the integrity of the redistricting process.”
Former CEO of Taylor English, Earl Earhart, has a history of using homophobic language, has adopted controversial issues to champion, and served as Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – a controversial organization that drafts bills to further an anti-government political agenda in state legislatures – including here in AZ. This is unacceptable and should disqualify Taylor English from being hired.