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Moving Justice Forward For 60 Years!

Redistricting is the most important thing happening now in Utah

29 October 2021 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist

At the ACLU of Utah, we believe in a simple truth.

We believe that people should select their representatives, and not the other way around.

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Every ten years, Utah draws new voting maps for local, state, and Congressional districts based on fresh population data from the U.S. Census. And since Utah’s population grew by 507,731 people between 2010 and 2020, many of the state’s political boundaries will need to change. The process of drawing new district boundaries is often called redistricting, but we prefer the term “community mapping” because the districts redrawn this year will determine your community’s resources for the next decade.

Every vote and every community should matter, but last time the maps were drawn, certain politicians carved up cities, counties, and neighborhoods to protect their own power.

This time around, the maps proposed by Utah lawmakers will face competition from the new Independent Redistricting Commission, created because voters approved the ballot initiative known as “Proposition 4” in 2018.

The goals of these two approaches could not be more different. The Independent Redistricting Commission is barred from looking at how many Republicans or Democrats live in a district and instead focuses on combining “communities of interest,” which include everything from where people live, work and go to school, to the unique social and cultural ties that bind different communities together. In contrast, the Legislative Committee voted against taking communities of interest into consideration when drawing boundaries but can shape new maps based on where incumbent politicians live.

These parallel efforts mean that you have twice the opportunity to participate in public hearings and provide comments this year to prevent the political slicing-and-dicing of our communities from happening again.

Utah’s last redistricting effort in 2011 resulted in some truly bizarre district boundaries. Infamous examples include the boundary that follows the Super Condor Express ski lift down a steep slope to split the two most populous areas in Summit County—Park City and Snyderville Basin—into different House districts, or the line down the center of Moab’s Main Street that divides its residents into separate sprawling districts with very little in common. These examples of the slicing and dicing of our neighborhoods shows the need for public oversight of the community mapping process.

Last year, we came together as an ACLU community to ensure that Utahns across the state could exercise their right to vote. This year, it’s time to show up for fair districting and ensure that every voice is actually heard. Fair districts are at the foundation of every issue we care about, from education to criminal legal reform, from healthcare access to clean air. By giving input on what Utah’s voting maps should look like, you can ensure your community is able to determine its own future.

Here is how you can make a difference this fall.

-Learn why community mapping matters at the Utah Redistricting Coalition homepage

-Read "Decoding Utah’s Redistricting Process" from the ACLU of Utah and Alliance for a Better Utah (PDF Document)

-Attend the ACLU Capitol Hill Meet-Up ahead of the November 1 Utah Redistricting Committee hearing (RSVP)

-See the final maps recommended by the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission: https://uirc.utah.gov/

-Follow the Utah Legislature’s Redistricting process in November as they debate and select the final maps: https://redistricting.utah.gov/

-Sign up for ACLU of Utah’s action alert list here: https://action.aclu.org/signup/ut-email-updates


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