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Mapping consultants begin redrawing Arizona's district maps

After spending months gathering feedback from Arizona residents, the five members of the Independent Redistricting Commission spent Monday afternoon sharing some of that feedback with their mapping consultants.

Those consultants now begin the task of redrawing the state’s congressional and legislative district boundaries based on the commissioners’ guidance, while also adhering to other constitutionally required factors, including competitiveness, respect for communities of interest and compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

Erika Neuberg, the commission’s independent chairwoman, said it’s not too late to comment on the redistricting process.

“We're going to be moving these lines for weeks and so please keep the data coming. There's no deadline,” Neuberg said during Monday’s hearing.

The commission has held meetings across the state to take feedback from the public,  but it’s faced some criticism that Latinos and Native Americans aren’t being heard in that process.

Public comments are accepted online, and the IRC is scheduled to host a public hearing in Surprise on Thursday.

Much of the feedback shared Monday focused on keeping certain communities of interest lumped together, particularly along partisan lines. Doug Johnson, one of the IRC’s hired mapping consultants, said that 182 communities of interest were flagged in public comments to date. 

And 37 maps have so far been submitted online,  though the submission system  has been described by some as too difficult to use.

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.