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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Report: AZ Earns 'B minus' grade for redistricting practices

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Friday, October 20, 2023   

A report is taking a closer look at how states across the country are managing redistricting policies, and it shows the battleground state of Arizona has done O.K. overall. The national watchdog group Common Cause gives Arizona a "B minus" for the work the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has achieved in drawing congressional and state legislative maps, but adds it is not a reason for the commission to get complacent.

Jenny Guzman, program director for Common Cause Arizona, says the AIRC can be a lot stronger and more independent.

"The way the current Arizona redistricting commission works is in order to appoint commissioners, the first few have to be appointed by the Arizona state party leaders. That can make things a little tricky," she explained.

The state Constitution requires the commissioners be composed of two Republicans, two Democrats and an independent chairperson. While the Arizona State legislature can make recommendations to the AIRC, the commission does have the last word. Guzman adds it is important commissioners have strong community ties outside their party affiliations.

The group says while the AIRC included a Native American commissioner, Native Americans in Arizona lost political power during the latest round of redistricting. In 2021, the commission did not need to comply with certain requirements after a 2013 conservative majority in the U-S Supreme Court gutted parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Guzman said that meant fewer "guardrails" to ensure all races were properly represented in the redistricting process. She says this negatively impacted Arizona.

"Which is why we lost a state legislative district that empowered Native American voters, so because of that it is really important to ensure that moving forward, the Arizona legislature and also the courts are able to uphold the Voting Rights Act of 1965," she continued.

Guzman added if that is not achieved, she supports what she calls "comprehensive voting rights reform," that includes clauses for the independent redistricting commission.


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