TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — A Republican push to remove Democratic voters from the state’s swing congressional district is not going over well with residents of two close-knit counties caught in the mix.
A Senate panel approved their version of a controversial map, called “Ad Astra” on Thursday, following a round of simultaneous hearings in the Senate and House Redistricting committees.
The map removes the northern half of Wyandotte County from the state’s 3rd Congressional District, currently held by Representative Sharice Davids, who is the only Kansas democrat in Congress.
“It is a classic example of gerrymandering,” Mike Taylor, a representative for Voter Rights Network in Wyandotte County, said.
Taylor is one of many that pointed to the strong minority population in northern Wyandotte county, fearing that their voice could be limited with the current map proposals.
Wyandotte and Johnson County are two of the state’s most populated districts, located in the Kansas City-metro area, which leans blue. Now that the district is overpopulated, Republicans have an incentive to set new lines that could hurt Davids politically.
During a round of hearings in the House and Senate Redistricting Committee, Kansas City metro area residents urged lawmakers to keep both Wyandotte and Johnson county intact, with some calling Republican lawmakers’ “disregard” for following through “troubling.”
The “Ad Astra” map has also been criticized for making another ‘partisan’ move to take Lawrence, one city in Douglas County, and move it to the “Big First” congressional district, which is otherwise composed of more rural areas.
The move has also upset some representatives of the area.
“We are proud of our Douglas County community. We vote the way our people feel, and we’re entitled to that. The same as the rest of the state,” Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said.
The Republican-led Senate panel approved of an amended “Ad Astra” map with a vote on party lines. The amended version mainly included changes to move the Kansas Kickapoo Tribe’s reservation to the 2nd district instead of splitting it up between two districts.
The House redistricting panel could take action on their map soon to pass it to the floor as well, according to committee chair Rep. Chris Croft, R-Overland Park. Croft said the committee has received an extensive amount of input from the public, which influenced the proposals that are being considered.
“There’s a lot of input that’s gone on, and it’s everybody. Everybody in that committee has been involved for months now, talking to folks,” Croft said.