Coalition presses for transparency in state redistricting

The Rhode Island State House. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A coalition of civil rights and community groups is calling for a “fair and transparent” process as Rhode Island sets out to draw new voting districts.

In a letter released Wednesday, the groups asked the state’s Special Commission on Reapportionment to make sure its meetings are accessible to anyone who wants to participate. It’s urging the group to allow public participate online and to provide Spanish interpretation, among other recommendations.

“The Reapportionment Commission must take all necessary steps to make sure the new district maps are drawn in a fair and transparent process the public can easily understand,” John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said in a statement.

The letter was signed by more than 20 groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, Disability Rights Rhode Island and the NAACP Providence Branch.

The Special Commission on Reapportionment is scheduled to hold its first meeting Thursday as it works to draft new voting districts for Congress and the General Assembly. A final recommendation is due Jan. 15.

In its letter, the coalition asked the commission to release a written explanation accompanying any maps it releases, along with the criteria used to draw them. It also asked the commission to invite the public to submit maps for consideration.

“A fair redistricting process would be bipartisan, transparent and would include multiple opportunities for robust public engagement before and after proposed maps are drawn,” the coalition said in a statement.