Utahns come to terms over their lack of redistricting power

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — On Monday, the Utah State Legislature’s Redistricting Committee moved to accept new redistricting maps, none of which were derived from the Independent Redistricting Commission.

The commission was recently created after Utahns voted to pass Proposition 4 in 2o18, which sought to limit gerrymandering.

Katie Wright, executive director of Better Boundaries, which sponsored Prop 4, denounced the proposed maps on Monday.

“We have severely partisan gerrymandered maps that are put in place as job protection programs for elected officials, and that’s what we’re moving forward to and it’s disappointing. Incredibly disappointing,” Wright told FOX 13.

What to know about the proposed maps:

  • Salt Lake City is split into each of the state’s four congressional districts, “cracking” the urban center’s political influence.
  • Summit County is split into two congressional districts, along I-80 to Wanship.
  • Park City and the Snyderville Basin will be in congressional district 3, along with Provo and a majority of the eastern part of the state.
  • Park City and Kimball Junction are split in the Utah House map.
  • The Utah Senate map is similar but the dividing line is closer to I-80, it also cuts off Pinebrook (see below).
  • The school board map keeps the Park City area intact, with the dividing line at Jordanelle.

The proposed congressional map:

The proposed congressional district map. (Twitter @KatieMcKellar1)

Utah House map:

Note: the dots on the maps represent public comments which be viewed online.

Utah House map. (Photo: Utah State Legislature)

Utah Senate map:

Utah Senate map. (Photo: Utah State Legislature)

School board:

School board map. (Photo: Utah State Legislature)

The newly proposed map was released on Friday night, which gave members of the public roughly 65 hours before a public hearing on Monday afternoon.

At the five-hour hearing on Monday, the strong majority of public comments were vehemently against the committee’s maps.

Additionally, officials from around the state, including Park City Mayor Andy Beerman and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall denounced the maps in a statement. “This proposal effectively silences communities of color in a county with the most diverse population in the state. It also disenfranchises urban voters, and almost certainly saddles rural constituents with urban representatives… We can do better for our state and country,” said the statement.

“In Utah, the treatment of Salt Lake City and its communities of interest has a significant influence on partisan competitiveness, preservation of geographic boundaries, and ultimately, fair representation,” said the Princeton Gerrymandering Project in a report on the maps.

The report said that the draft map submitted by the legislature “violates the traditional principle of keeping counties whole where possible.”

While Gov. Spencer Cox can reject the maps, he can be vetoed if the legislature has enough votes.

Explore all of the proposed maps.

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