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It is the beginning of the end for the Arizona redistricting drama that has put Congressional races in the state in limbo.
The state Independent Redistricting Commission, the bipartisan group tasked with redrawing the state’s Congressional lines, passed a map this evening. It is “pending analyses by the panel’s legal counsel and voting-rights consultants,” according to a news release from the commission.
The map will then have to be submitted to the Justice Department for pre-clearance approval.
The vote fell along party lines. Five members constitute the commission: two from each party and a registered Independent named Colleen Mathis. The two Democrats voted for the map, the two Republicans voted against it, and Mathis served as the swing vote for passage.
“This is a significant step toward fulfilling our mission,” Mathis said in a statement. “We worked very hard to reach consensus on the map where possible, and it was also our consensus that it was time to move the process along.”
Arizona’s redistricting was one of the nastiest in the reapportionment cycle and caught national attention in early November.
When the map was first released in early October, state and national Republicans were enraged. Although Republicans dominate the state government, the map made Democratic gains possible within the Congressional delegation.
Several weeks later, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and the Republican-controlled state Senate used what was called within the state “the nuclear option,” and they removed Mathis from the commission.
The state Supreme Court overruled the Republican effort and reinstated Mathis on Nov. 17. Since then, Mathis and the commission have been seeking constituent feedback around the state.