DENVER (AP) — Thanks to booming population growth over the past decade, Colorado will receive an eighth U.S. House seat after the release of new U.S. Census Bureau data Monday.
Most of that growth happened in the Denver metropolitan area. Normally that would give Democrats, who hold the governor’s office and both houses of the state Legislature, the ability to place the new district in an increasingly urban area that has trended Democratic over the past decade. Democrats hold a 4-3 edge over Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation.
But voters removed the task from lawmakers and political parties with a 2018 constitutional amendment, hoping to make the process less partisan. The new citizens’ redistricting commission consists of four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated citizens.
Any final plan they submit to the state Supreme Court requires eight “yes” votes, including two from the independents.
A similar panel is charged with redistricting state legislative seats. The process begins with nonpartisan legislative staff drawing rough boundaries based on preliminary Census data.
Colorado last gained congressional seats after the release of Census data in 1980 and 2000. Disputes over party-drawn maps forced the courts to step in to choose district maps in three of the last four redistricting cycles.