I presented the following written and oral testimony to the Redistricting Listening Tour, Aug. 13, 2021, in Leavenworth, KS:
My name is Carole Jordan. I’ve been a resident of Northeast Kansas, Jefferson, Douglas and Shawnee counties, for more than half a century. Today I am representing the League of Women Voters of Topeka-Shawnee County.
I’m grateful for the chance to submit testimony today, because fair representation is important to everyone in this state and to the state’s future. I must note that driving for an hour to speak here during the workday is not a great hardship for me. I’m retired, and Leavenworth is a great city.
But I would urge you to conduct your next set of hearings during evenings and weekends when working people can participate too. Any action you take to make these hearings accessible in person or remotely will benefit all Kansans. That would also include Spanish and sign language interpretation.
Redistricting decisions cannot be made without study and analysis of the 2020 census data. No one can make suggestions about fair districts without time and study. The data was released by the Bureau of the Census yesterday;. Now it’s important to give yourselves and all communities in Kansas time to study that data before we decide what change we need to maintain equality of population in our districts. When we have the data we need to make full use of it.
Please, publicize the data widely and immediately. Make the Census data available in a useful way through maps and reports of current districts. Give yourselves and others time to study and analyze it. Then set your next set of hearings ahead of time, publicized widely, during non-working hours. Provide technical assistance and interpretation services to broaden the reach of the meetings.
I conclude with just three of the things the League of Women Voters values.
First, the best and most fairly organized districts are based on input from the people who live there. Good citizens need political power and representation of their own choice. That serves Kansas well. Get all the input you can.
Second, as you draw districts, do not dilute the power of minority populations with shared interests.
And finally, I urge you to take another look at the policy in Kansas that has said redistricting decisions should be made while avoiding contests between incumbents. The League of Women Voters opposes that. We believe the voters should choose their representatives, rather than the representatives choosing their voters.
Thank you for this opportunity.