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Utah's Redistricting Process Kicks Off

Better Boundaries

If Utah’s political boundary lines are important to you, now is the time to get involved before they’re locked in for the next 10 years.

Utah’s Independent Redistricting Commission has kicked off its statewide tour – planning stops at county fairs, Midway Swiss Days and a public hearing in Heber City. The commission was formed after voters passed Prop 4 in 2018 and legislators funded it. 

Commission Chairman Rex Facer says the commission encourages the public to join in the process of creating three maps that will be presented to the state legislature next year.

These maps will identify the boundaries for Congress, the state senate, state house of representatives, and state school board. The state finally received the federal census data this month that shows how many people live where.

Facer says the map-drawing is underway.

“Starting in September,” Facer said, “we’ll have a series of public hearings across the state, where we'll engage with the public about the maps that we've drawn to get their feedback so that we can then alter those to make sure that we're representing the desires and the interests of the people of Utah.”

The overriding goal – and challenge - he says is to have equal population numbers in each district.

“Now that's what the Constitution requires of us one person, one vote,”  Facer said. “And so, as we've had population shifts over the last 10 years in Utah, our districts are out of balance now. We know for example that Utah County has grown faster as has Washington County than other parts of the state and as a result, they'll end up needing to have more representation down in that part of the state versus other parts of the state. And so that's the key is to balance all of that out again.”

Commissioners want the entire state to be engaged in determining how their communities will be divided. Currently Summit County is divided among three legislative districts.

People can try their hands at drawing maps by going onto the Better Boundaries website. You can comment on the maps that have been drawn by the commission so far at UIRCcomments@utah.gov. As soon as the maps are prepared, Facer says they‘ll be posted on the commission’s website.

Critics say the million dollars the legislature funded the commission with isn’t adequate and as a result, the commission is having to use interns, rather than professionals, to draw the maps. But Facer says GIS experts from across the state have volunteered to help out.

“We will do it with what we've got,” Facer said. “Now, would we love to have more resources? You bet. Everybody always would love to have more resources. But, you know, we're going to run with the cards that we've been dealt with. And we're going to provide a high-quality product for the state of Utah.”

However, the state legislature is not required to use the commission’s work. It has retained the legal right to draw its own maps if it chooses.

13 public hearings will be held before the commission turns over the maps to the state legislature by November 1st.

The redistricting calendar shows the commission considered coming to the Park Silly Saturday market, but as the market happens on Sunday and not Saturday, a commission representative won’t be attending after all.

The closest opportunity for members of the Wasatch Back to attend a redistricting public hearing will be in Heber City on the Saturday over Labor Day weekend, September 4th. No location has been announced.

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