TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Kansas Democrats will be introducing a ‘gerrymandering’ amendment at the Kansas statehouse when lawmakers return Monday.
This comes after a Supreme Court ruling to uphold a controversial congressional map that splits up key voting areas in the state.
“My fear is if we don’t do something, gerrymandering will only get worse, not better,” House Minority Leader Sawyer told Kansas Capitol Bureau in an interview after the decision was released on Wednesday. “They’re ruling is basically that they can’t make that decision because we don’t give them that authority in the constitution.”
The amendment that will be introduced will say that gerrymandering is unconstitutional and prohibited in the state. Sawyer said there are other states that have this in place, but Kansas does not. He hopes that it will help strengthen the minority voice in future redistricting cycles.
The map approved by the Supreme Court splits up Wyandotte county. Opponents say this could jeopardize the state’s lone Democrat seat in Congress, Sharice Davids. The map also moves Lawrence, a liberal city in Douglas County, to the “Big First” congressional district with more conservative, rural areas.
Davids, who is expected to face off with Republican front-runner Amanda Adkins next year, released the following statement after the Supreme Court issued its decision.
From rushed hearings to backroom deals for votes, the redistricting process did not instill a sense of transparency or confidence in the people of Kansas. I hope that although many feel their voice was not heard, they do not feel as if their voice does not matter. I look forward to introducing myself to the new voters in the Third District, continuing my work to find common ground and tackle the everyday issues facing our community, and showing all Kansans that to me, their voice matters.
U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, (D) Kansas
In Kansas, state Democrats have argued that this year’s redistricting process has been overrun by the state’s Republican supermajority. Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa, criticized the party in a statement released Wednesday.
But make no mistake: this process did not serve the Kansans we are elected to represent. Kansas Republicans disrespected, ignored, and gaslit engaged voters from the very start. While that isn’t unconstitutional, it is unacceptable. Kansans should continue to hold legislative leadership to task for their consistent refusal to accept that, despite their best efforts, our residents are not a monolith and have a different vision for our state from the GOP’s. Continuing to engage with the legislative process and challenging these leaders is integral to ensuring our democracy is not further eroded by the party in charge.Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes
However, Republican leaders have maintained that they listened to input from Kansans and are defending their efforts to even out the population in the state’s growing urban areas.
In this case, following a lengthy and deliberative process, the legislature listened and took input from Kansans and enacted a set of maps that are fair for all and are consistent with the historically recognized redistricting guidelines.Kansas Republican Senate Leadership Joint Statement
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, whose team defended the congressional map in court, spoke with Kansas Capitol Bureau just hours after the decision was released. Schmidt said that “merely being unhappy” with a map isn’t the same as having a map that is unlawful.
“I’ve watched three rounds of reapportionment now in the course of my public service, and one thing is always true … somebody is always unhappy at the end of the day, but decisions have to be made,” Schmidt said.
The next cycle of redistricting will take place in 10 years. House Minority Leader Sawyer said, in that time, they will continue to push to get the amendment passed, then eventually on the ballot.
“I think this year there are going to be campaigns … people that run for office ought to talk about it, and let people know where they’re at on it … whether they support gerrymandering or not,” Sawyer said.