NH Groups: Communities of Interest Key for Redistricting
Monday, August 16, 2021
CONCORD, N.H. - Community groups in New Hampshire are urging lawmakers to take community input into account as they draw new voting district maps, based on the just-released detailed, demographic 2020 census data.
74 New Hampshire towns have passed resolutions calling for fair, transparent and nonpartisan redistricting in 2021.
Brian Biehl, deputy director of Open Democracy in the Granite State, said it's important for people to get involved in the process and let their legislators know what communities should be kept together so that they can advocate for their shared interests.
"How money is allocated to your schools, whether you have adequate health care, how taxation is done, how your roads are maintained," said Biehl. "Fair representations through fair voting districts have a huge impact on that."
Biehl added that Open Democracy, along with other good-government groups in the state, have formed a 'Map-a-thon' coalition to gather information about communities of interest. He said it's so important to be able to elect someone who will represent a community's needs.
Biehl said there are many factors to take into account while drawing the maps - districts should be compact, competitive and contiguous, and can't be racially discriminatory. He added that while redistricting is complicated, a fair process is what can ensure that everyone's vote gets equal weight.
"There was also a lot of malfeasance in the mapping process the last time," said Biehl. "We want to make sure that this gets done in a fair and transparent way."
Currently in New Hampshire, Republicans control the state Senate, state House and governor's office - meaning they control the redistricting process.
Biehl said he hopes the process will be transparent, to try to prevent what's known as partisan gerrymandering, when one party draws maps in their own favor.
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