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Weld County’s Latino community wins court case on gerrymandered maps

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Eric Galatas

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(Colorado News Connection) Weld County commissioners are headed back to the drawing board, after a county district court ruled that their voter district maps created after the 2020 Census violated state law and could not be used in any upcoming elections. 

Beth Hendrix, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Colorado, said fair voter district maps ensure that communities of interest - including Latinos, who make up about 30 percent of Weld County's population - are able to be represented at all levels of government.

"The Weld County commissioners did not look at the Latino population as a community of interest," said Hendrix. "And by ignoring that, basically the maps they drew would have deleted the Latino vote for the next decade."

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The League's Greeley-Weld County chapter, the Latino Coalition of Weld County, and others took the county to court - for not providing public notice of redistricting hearings, and for drawing maps in violation of State House Bill 21-1047

The county argued that it was not subject to that law because it is a home rule municipality, which allows for more local control.

Both major political parties have used their dominant position to gerrymander voter districts in the past, drawing boundaries in a way that favors their candidates. 

But Hendrix noted that Colorado voters decided to take the redistricting process out of the hands of elected officials.

"And into the hands of two independent commissions," said Hendrix, "made up of Republican, Democratic, and unaffiliated citizens."

For more than a century, the League of Women Voters has worked to protect and expand voting rights and ensure everyone is represented in American democracy. 

Hendrix said the League's plans for the upcoming November presidential election include promoting the nonpartisan, a comprehensive voter information resource.

"There has been a mass exodus of poll workers, so we will be encouraging folks to volunteer to be poll workers," said Hendrix. "And we will be educating on any issues on the ballot."

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.