Constitutional Referendum to Remove Politics from Redistricting
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Montana Constitution mandates that legislative boundaries must be redrawn every ten years following the U.S. Census, according to Article five, section 14 of the Montana Constitution.
State Senator Tom McGillvray, a Republican from Billings, has introduced SB 534 which proposes a constitutional amendment that requires 100 total votes in the Montana legislature in order to be placed on the November general election ballot.
Redistricting Always Seems to Bring out Partisan Politics
KGVO News spoke to Senator McGillvray on Tuesday who said the purpose of the bill is to follow the state constitution.
“It amends, Article Five, section 14 of the Montana Constitution,” began McGillvray. “What we're really trying to drive here is, when redistricting is happening, then we want to follow the Constitution. In other words, we want to respect the ‘one man one vote’ rule. We want to follow the Constitution that districts should be contiguous and compact.”
Senator McGillvray wants to Eliminate Partisan Politics from the Process
McGillvray said the last round of redistricting was governed by partisan politics.
“What happened in the last districting I think, is that partisan politics were a big part of districting,” he said. “So rather than look at compact, contiguous and keeping communities of interest together, and the ‘one man one vote’ rule, we are beginning to stray off the beaten path. We want to get enough seats that would favor Democrats or favor Republicans, and that should not be what districting is about. It should be about drawing fair compact, contiguous districts that respect what the Constitution says, and politics should not be a part of that.”
McGillvray said the original intent of the Montana Constitution is to rule out politics when it comes to redistricting.
“All districts should comply with the United States Constitution,” he said. “So that's clear. And then it says the geographical integrity of any city, town, county, or community of interest shall be respected in a manner that minimizes their division to the extent possible without violating any requirements of this subsection, which could be keeping them close in population. And then the amendment just says that communities of interest don't include political parties or incumbents or political candidates. So you just by definition in the Constitution, rule out politics.”
McGillvray said he Trusts the Montana Voters to Make the Right Choice
McGillvray said all he and the other legislators can do is to put the matter as clearly and concisely as possible before the voters and let them decide.
“The Montana Legislature cannot change the Constitution,” he said. “We can make recommendations and the people can make recommendations or initiatives, but ultimately the people have to vote on it. They are the ones that are sovereign and in control, so if it gets 100 votes in the legislature it gets on the ballot in November, and then it's in their hands.”
Senate Bill 534 will have its first hearing on Wednesday in the Senate State Administration Committee.