The State of Kansas has a website dedicated to the redistricting process. The home page reads as follows:
“During the 2012 Session, the Legislature will redraw congressional, legislative, and State Board of Education districts based on the results of the 2010 Census and data acquired by the Secretary of State’s Office. This process, as required by the Kansas Constitution and federal courts, is to ensure that all districts are nearly equal in population.
“Thank you for visiting and please contact Kansas Legislative Research Department staff with any questions.”
As we all know, this issued bogged down in the Legislature. Heck, it came to a grinding halt with no map emerging, forcing a panel of three federal judges to step in and get the job done.
Well, these judges announced their map late last Thursday. The deadline to file for the newly drawn districts was noon Monday. Taking the weekend into consideration, that left at most two days for lawmakers or potential lawmakers to decide their intentions and file.
Candidates had until noon Monday to submit their paperwork to the Kansas secretary of state’s office in Topeka and pay the necessary filing fees. While the documents can be submitted to county elections officials, they can’t be in the mail when the deadline hits, so last-minute filers from across the state typically come to the state capital.
So, one can only imagine the scene in Topeka Monday.
Whose to blame for this fiasco? There is plenty to go around. Our legislators failed at one of the key tasks they faced this year.
The goal of creating a map fell squarely in the laps of our state lawmakers who merely kicked the can down the road and into a ditch, an action driven by an increasingly rancorous legislative body. There were partisan rifts, sure, but many Statehouse watchers say the biggest hang-up came from bickering within the parties.
At least two problems with how this redistricting played out come to mind.
First is the legislative deadlock that plagues the state capitol. From the maps to funding education to the budget, it is becoming more difficult for our elected leaders to behave like the adults they are and do the bidding of their constituents.
Second, with the rush to figure out what districts are where and who will file for what, we can only hope Kansas comes out of this with a governing body that can focus on the jobs at hand. In many cases, these lawmakers will have to adjust to their new turfdoms and learn the needs of a new set of voters on the fly.
We can only hope the newly defined Legislature can get a better handle of the state’s needs, and its members can get along and get stuff done without melodrama.