Public hearing concerning district maps set for tonight

Residents can voice their opinion at 6 p.m.

KINGMAN - The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is holding its only Mohave County public hearing on the proposed legislative and congressional voting district maps at 6 p.m. today at the Bullhead City Council Chambers, 1255 Marina Blvd.

The commission is charged with redrawing the legislative and congressional districts in Arizona for the 2012 election. New districts are drawn every 10 years after the U.S. Census is released.

The commission approved a draft legislative map by a 4 to 1 vote, with Commissioners Colleen Mathis (I- Pima County), Scott Freeman (R-Maricopa County), Linda McNulty (D- Pima) and José Herrera (D-Maricopa) voting in favor and Commissioner Richard Stertz (R-Pima) dissenting.

The commission approved a draft congressional voting district map by a 3 to 1 vote, with one member abstaining, on Oct. 3.

State Republicans have said the maps have been unfairly drawn to favor Democrats.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has been investigating the commission for open meeting violations. He alleges that Mathis lobbied the other members of the commission to hire Washington, D.C. - based Strategic Telemetry as its consultant. The company has done work for a number of Democratic candidates.

Arizona is one of a group of states that's voting district maps must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice because of the large number of minorities, such as Hispanics and Native Americans that live in the state. Districts must be drawn to protect minority voting rights.

The districts must also be nearly equal in population, avoid splitting communities of interest and local government boundaries and take into account geographic features.