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4/30/2012 6:00:00 AM
Department of Justice approves legislative district maps
CourtesyThe maps of the legislative and congressional districts can be found at

The maps of the legislative and congressional districts can be found at

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN -Arizona's new legislative districts are now official. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Justice had approved the maps.

Arizona is one of 16 states across the country that are required to send its voting district maps to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval because these states have a high population of minority voters.

The Commission submitted the legislative maps for preclearance on Feb. 28. The congressional map developed by the Independent Redistricting Commission was approved by the Department of Justice on April 9.

According to commission officials, this is the first time the DOJ has approved a legislative district map for the state without seeking additional information.

The last time the district maps for Arizona's congressional and legislative seats were drawn and submitted to the DOJ in 2002, they were rejected because several people protested that the maps were drawn against minorities. Several legal challenges dragged the approval process out until the final maps were approved in 2004.

This year's redistricting process was also filled with controversy. The chairwoman of the commission, Colleen Mathis, was accused of not revealing her husband's ties to the Democratic Party and breaking the state's Open Meeting Laws when she allegedly tried to convince the other members of the commission to vote for a particular mapping consultant. Gov. Jan Brewer removed Mathis from the commission Nov. 1 based on the allegations. An Arizona court reinstated her to the commission Nov. 18.

The Arizona Attorney General then started an investigation into the commission's actions, stating that it had violated the state's Open Meetings Laws.

The investigation and Mathis's fight to keep her seat ended up putting the commission over its budget in legal fees, which required it to ask the Legislature for additional funding.

At first, it appeared that the Legislature would not appropriate the funds. Then officials said they would only appropriate $1 to the commission. The Legislature finally relented after the commission started making noise about filing a lawsuit in order to get the expenses paid.

The newest claim from Republican lawmakers is that the maps "seriously weaken minority voting strength in Arizona's legislative districts."

In a news release, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Andy Tobin stated "legislative voting results from the last ten years show that Hispanic voters have often been unable to elect Hispanic candidates from districts supposedly designed to give them majority voting strength."

"The committee should have enhanced Hispanic voting strength. Instead, it has deliberately and overtly moved to undermine it," he said.

Tobin said the federal "preclearance process has been hopelessly hijacked by a partisan and political agenda hostile to Hispanic voters."

Republican lawmakers have also claimed that the commission created maps that favor the Democrats and deliberately drew some districts so that some Republicans would have to run against each other.

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Related Stories:
• New Arizona district maps upcoming
• Ariz.'s final redistricting plans sent to Justice Department for review

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2012
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

I do believe New Hampshire 2004 did not teach the Repbulican operatives of the folley of illegal voter supression, jamming the Democrat get out the vote offices in 2004 election got two of them prison sentences, this latest one was during the 2010 election cycle, ironically this operative is a black republican which ought to tickle the birther's to no end, but guess depends on the outcome of his now in session trail!

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2012
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Historically there is a valid reason these 16 states are required by law to submit their redistricting issues, they seem to have some who like to play partisan politics and some who have xenophobic obsessions which cloud their 4th amendment knowledge! Brewer and her crew will be having cows about this time next election cycle!

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