Redistricting and Voting Rights Roundup

Here's the latest activity in Colorado, California and the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council.

Posted: 04/16/2012 01:07 PM EDT

(Photo: Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.); Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

 

Changing demographics are key to determining a political district’s makeup and opening opportunities for those who aspire to elective office and expand minority districts. But in some cities where African-American populations are diminishing, those doors may close. Meanwhile, liberal advocacy groups are successfully forcing major corporations to end their membership in the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council, which has helped craft voter ID laws for states around the nation.

 

Colorado: Denver never boasted a large African-American population, but now its numbers are shrinking as the city grows more white and Latino. Denver’s 13-member city council currently has three Latino and two Black members. A proposed redistricting map redraws the half of the city where most minorities live and leaves the other half untouched, the Denver Post reports. In addition, just one of the 11 districts has a Black population of more than 25 percent. The council’s minority members fear that their hard-won gains will be lost. In addition to pitting them against each other, the map has brought to the surface generational differences. Wellington Webb, the city’s first African-American mayor, believes that the map could eventually cause the city to have no Black council members. "Some feel if we make this change, that history will be lost. I don't agree. It will never be lost,” newly elected Councilman Christopher Herndon told the publication. “It does not lie in a number or in what a district looks like. It's our core being. It's who we are as a city."

 

California: Rep. Laura Richardson, who faces a primary challenge in a newly drawn district from fellow Democrat Rep. Janice Hahn, who is white, is losing key endorsements from local Black leaders, the Los Angeles Times reports. Hahn’s late father, a longtime county supervisor, was “beloved” by African-Americans, and the new district includes many communities that she represented as a member of the L.A. city council, including South Los Angeles. Richardson is facing a House Ethics Committee investigation based on allegations that she improperly required campaign staffers to work on her campaign.

 

American Legislative Exchange Council: The coalition of state legislatures and major corporations has lost several members in the past several days after ColorofChange.org, Common Cause and other groups brought to attention the American Legislative Exchange Council’s role in helping to craft controversial voter ID laws that threaten to disenfranchise millions of Americans and StandYour Ground legislation adopted by several states. Coca-Cola ended its membership on April 4 and was quickly followed by Pepsi, Kraft Foods, Intuit, McDonalds, Wendy’s and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. ALEC has characterized efforts to discredit it and pressure members to flee the group an “intimidation campaign.”

 

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