Putting the ‘independent’ in the Independent Redistricting Commission

By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror

The pool of applicants who are vying for a chance to serve as the all-important chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission includes a lot of people with no discernible ties to the political world, while others have backgrounds that might be red flags for the Democrats and Republicans who want the tiebreaker vote to be as neutral — or perhaps as friendly to their own interests — as possible.

Both parties have an effective veto over any prospective chair they oppose. The five-member redistricting panel consists of two Democrats and two Republicans, chosen by the leaders of each party in the state Senate and House of Representatives, and a fifth person, traditionally an independent, who serves as chair and represents the swing vote if the four partisan commissioners deadlock.

The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments is tasked with narrowing the list of 138 total applicants down to 10 Republicans, 10 Democrats and 5 independents. It will hold its first meeting to screen the applicants on Thursday. 

Doug Cole, who served on the commission when it vetted redistricting applicants in 2010, said the commissioners put a high premium on neutrality for the independent who will serve as the swing vote.

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