“Certainly the incentive structure is different and it pushes people to the extremes, to the outer ends of the spectrum, and that’s both parties, when they know they don’t have a general election race,” Miller said. “That, I think, is something that we were hearing from people, that competitive districts are more likely to lead to better constituent services and people who want to reach across the aisle.”
In the end, the five-member commission agreed that they “may consider competitiveness when drawing plans,” a pivot away from setting a goal of making districts competitive. The vote was unanimous.
Commissioners did decide that no plan could be drawn to unduly favor a political party. They agreed to keep to a minimum the dividing of cities, counties, and tribal reservations between the congressional districts. They agreed to keep intact communities of interest, like trade areas, or tribal interests.
Additionally, the commission set mandatory criteria Friday for drawing congressional districts. The districts must be as equal in population as practicable, a requirement of the U.S. Constitution.
The voting rights of minorities must be protected. “No district, plan, or proposal for a plan is acceptable if it affords members of a racial or language minority group ‘less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.’”