Lawmakers voted Wednesday to consider a change to the Idaho Constitution to add a seventh member to the independent commission that redraws congressional and legislative maps. The House State Affairs Committee voted to conduct a hearing on the proposal. If it passes by a two-thirds majority in the GOP-dominated Senate and House, the plan would then go to the voters for approval. Redistricting is important because it can decide which party gets the majority of congressional and state legislative seats. It is a contentious issue nationwide. Currently, the commission in Idaho is comprised of three Republicans and three Democrats.
The seventh commissioner would be selected by the governor, lieutenant governor, state controller, state treasurer and superintendent of public instruction. Republicans say the change is needed after problems arose during the last redistricting, which finished in 2012.
“We can’t continue to have a system that is automatically set up for litigation,” said Rep. Steve Harris, a Republican who brought the legislation before the committee. “An odd number of commissioners would eliminate that problem.”
Democrats say the change will allow congressional and legislative districts to be drawn to favor Republican candidates.