October 18, 2011 A Quick Outline on the Recently Completed Redistricting Effort (Utah)
By Lincoln Shurtz
Yesterday the Utah State legislature concluded it redistricting effort. While the Utah House and Senate maps had broad support and passed without much fanfare in early October, the congressional maps (which are making way for a fourth congressional district) had significantly more dissention among legislative members.
Issues such as partisanship, urban rural distinction, making way for known congressional candidates and just general political agendas all played out during the two weeks between the initial special session call and the final passage of the congressional maps. In an attempt to avoid a lawsuit for gerrymandering, the legislature allowed unprecedented public participation in the process; establishing websites for public input, public map making, and a great venue for views to be expressed on the map. Now that does not mean that all participants agreed with maps, lawsuits will be avoided, or all parties are happy with the final outcome of the map, but at least great attempts were made by leadership to make the process as open and as transparent as possible….one must keep in mind that regardless of ones position on the map this process will inevitably have political elements that will never be avoided.
The greatest debate over the maps was how to handle the densely-populated Salt Lake County. Phrases such as the “doughnut” (which would have created a largely Salt Lake City District) or the “Pizza Slice” (which had all for congressional districts taking a small slice of Salt Lake City) were being tossed around like the dough of an actual pizza, and in the end a variation of the “pizza slice” ultimately passed. The key work is a “variation” as there were literally dozens of “variations of each map” that were being debated in party caucuses, on newscast and among the citizenry.
Because there are two-sides to every argument we are trying to refrain from labeling any proposal as good or bad, but rather decided to just provide you with the links to the various proposals and the final map so that you can make that determination for yourself.
I do, however, think we should commend the legislature on its efforts to represent the state and fairly divide the state in to the four districts. Their level of success on this effort is in the eye of the beholder.
Please see the link below to find more than you would ever want to know about the redistricting effort.
General Redistricting Site: http://www.redistrictutah.com/
Congressional Map (Final): http://www.redistrictutah.com/maps/sb3002enrolled
Senate Map (Final): http://www.redistrictutah.com/maps/senate-maps/final
House Map (Final): http://www.redistrictutah.com/maps/house-of-reps/hb3001enrolled
We hope this finds you well, and please let us know if you have any questions about the process, next steps or the particulars of the maps.