by Andrew Crisp
Each redistricting commission's work faces legal issues. Something as complicated as redrawing lines of 10-year-old voting blocs within a standard deviation of no less than 10 percent is bound to irk a few folks. Now Idaho's Redistricting Commission faces two lawsuits.
After the commission failed to meet a Sept. 6 deadline, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa filed a lawsuit against the six-member bipartisan redistricting commission with the Idaho Supreme Court. Ysursa asked the Idaho Supreme Court to send the commission back to work and guide the members in drawing up new plans.
The Republican members of the committee have also filed suit against their Democratic counterparts, asking for advice from the Idaho Supreme Court on the weight of redistricting rules. Does a provision mandating minimal county splits take precedence over one that states precincts must be connected by a physical road? The suit urges that the court accept Republican plans they claim are superior to Democratic proposals according to their ruling on the issue.
“If they give us the proper clarification and guidance on our inquiries contained within our petition, this process should only take three days of reconvening for the commission to reach an agreement,” stated Lou Esposito, spokesman for the Republican redistricting commissioners in a GOP release.
A redistricting plan requires four votes for approval—meaning at least one member has to side with the opposition party for their work to end. If they can't come to an agreement, an eventual option is for the Idaho Supreme Court to draw the lines themselves.
The Republican Party has also issued a release urging the Legislature to re-evaluate the bipartisan commission. Up until the mid-1990s, Legislators redrew the lines themselves. Idaho citizens voted to amend the Constitution for the current model, with the first citizen commission in 2001. Any legislation for reverting back to the original style would require another popular vote.