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Difference between revisions of "Redistricting in Utah"

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Hispanics in Utah increased 78%; the group represented 13% of the state's residents.  Minorities saw most of their gain in the under-18 demographic.  That lined up with the rest of the data, showing the 70% of Utah's population increase owed to the birthrate.<ref>[http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/Utahs-Latino-population-grows-by-78-percent-116874048.html ''Cache Valley Daily'', "Utah's Latino population grows by 78 percent," February 24, 2011]</ref>
 
Hispanics in Utah increased 78%; the group represented 13% of the state's residents.  Minorities saw most of their gain in the under-18 demographic.  That lined up with the rest of the data, showing the 70% of Utah's population increase owed to the birthrate.<ref>[http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/Utahs-Latino-population-grows-by-78-percent-116874048.html ''Cache Valley Daily'', "Utah's Latino population grows by 78 percent," February 24, 2011]</ref>
  
Democrats also got bad news as at least two of their House seats, along with one or more Senate seats, were at risk of being merged in order to accommodate population gains in Republican leaning areas.<ref>[http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/Democrats-could-lose-seats-in-Utah-redistricting-117090653.html ''Cache Valley Daily'', "Democrats could lose seats in Utah redistricting," February 28, 2011]</ref><ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51316001-76/areas-democratic-democrats-districts.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'' "Redistricting: Census bolsters Utah GOP," February 28, 2011]</ref><ref>[http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/ap/politics/2011/Mar/01/democrats_could_lose_seats_in_utah_redistricting.html ''Real Clear Politics'', "Democrats could lose seats in Utah redistricting," March 1, 2011]</ref>
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Democrats also got bad news as at least two of their House seats, along with one or more Senate seats, were at risk of being merged in order to accommodate population gains in Republican leaning areas.<ref>[http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/Democrats-could-lose-seats-in-Utah-redistricting-117090653.html ''Cache Valley Daily'', "Democrats could lose seats in Utah redistricting," February 28, 2011]</ref><ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51316001-76/areas-democratic-democrats-districts.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'', "Redistricting: Census bolsters Utah GOP," February 28, 2011]</ref><ref>[http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/ap/politics/2011/Mar/01/democrats_could_lose_seats_in_utah_redistricting.html ''Real Clear Politics'', "Democrats could lose seats in Utah redistricting," March 1, 2011]</ref>
  
 
For their part, Utah Republicans planned a 'war room' at state party headquarters and appealed to party members to donate toward stocking the room with flat screen televisions and computers in order to combine Census data with political data and maximize the GOP position.<ref>[http://www.utahpolicy.com/featured_article/utah-gop-already-gearing-up-redistricting-fight ''Utah Policy'', "Utah GOP Already Gearing Up for Redistricting Fight," February 28, 2011]</ref>
 
For their part, Utah Republicans planned a 'war room' at state party headquarters and appealed to party members to donate toward stocking the room with flat screen televisions and computers in order to combine Census data with political data and maximize the GOP position.<ref>[http://www.utahpolicy.com/featured_article/utah-gop-already-gearing-up-redistricting-fight ''Utah Policy'', "Utah GOP Already Gearing Up for Redistricting Fight," February 28, 2011]</ref>
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2011 brought a new district to Utah, a welcome result for a state that missed adding to its electoral heft in 2000 by only 857 residents.<ref>[http://www.standard.net/topics/national-government/2010/12/21/2010-census-gives-utah-more-influence ''Standard Examiner'', "2010 Census gives Utah more influence," December 21, 2010]</ref>  With the 2010 Census and Utah population trends in the 2000s - impressive at 24%, state lawmakers were fairly confident they would pick up a 4th District.<ref>[http://www.clippertoday.com/view/full_story/10752657/article-Utah-to-get-4th-Congressional-seat--according-to-census-data?instance=secondary_stories_left_column ''Davis County Clipper'', "Utah to get 4th Congressional seat, according to census data," December 22, 2010]</ref>
 
2011 brought a new district to Utah, a welcome result for a state that missed adding to its electoral heft in 2000 by only 857 residents.<ref>[http://www.standard.net/topics/national-government/2010/12/21/2010-census-gives-utah-more-influence ''Standard Examiner'', "2010 Census gives Utah more influence," December 21, 2010]</ref>  With the 2010 Census and Utah population trends in the 2000s - impressive at 24%, state lawmakers were fairly confident they would pick up a 4th District.<ref>[http://www.clippertoday.com/view/full_story/10752657/article-Utah-to-get-4th-Congressional-seat--according-to-census-data?instance=secondary_stories_left_column ''Davis County Clipper'', "Utah to get 4th Congressional seat, according to census data," December 22, 2010]</ref>
  
Like other Western states, Utah's population was concentrated in urban areas that represented a small portion of the state's land, something that led to scrutiny of how the legislature would apportion Congressional seats to be equal, at roughly 691,000 residents each, and take the entire state into consideration.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/50925011-82/districts-utah-congressional-interests.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'' "Redistricting Utah," December 23, 2010]</ref>  Early maps showed one enormous rural district alongside relatively compact seats centered around Salt Lake City.<ref>[http://blueinredzion.com/2011/01/the-joys-of-redistricting/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-joys-of-redistricting ''Blue in Red Zion'', "The Joys of Redistricting," January 4, 2011]</ref>
+
Like other Western states, Utah's population was concentrated in urban areas that represented a small portion of the state's land, something that led to scrutiny of how the legislature would apportion Congressional seats to be equal, at roughly 691,000 residents each, and take the entire state into consideration.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/50925011-82/districts-utah-congressional-interests.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'', "Redistricting Utah," December 23, 2010]</ref>  Early maps showed one enormous rural district alongside relatively compact seats centered around Salt Lake City.<ref>[http://blueinredzion.com/2011/01/the-joys-of-redistricting/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-joys-of-redistricting ''Blue in Red Zion'', "The Joys of Redistricting," January 4, 2011]</ref>
  
 
An early sign of the process ahead came in the form of the removal, days ahead of the January 24, 2011 beginning of the legislative session, of [[Republican]] Representative for the 57th District [[Craig Frank]].  Frank spent the better part of a decade representing the district but moving to a new house in 2010 put him outside the new boundaries, and cost him his seat.  While the state GOP began calling delegates for a special session to replace him, others tested the waters by asking [[Governor of Utah|Governor]] [[Gary R. Herbert]], a Republican, to convene a special session and redraw the 57th's boundaries to permit Rep. Frank to continue serving.<ref>[http://www.fox13now.com/news/local/kstu-redistricting-leaves-lockhart-out,0,6870338.story ''Fox 13 News'', "Utah County redistricting leaves one representative out of a job," January 10, 2011]</ref>  Almost immediately, Utah [[Democrats]] opposed invoking executive powers or redrawing boundaries for one official.<ref>[http://www.utahhousedemocrats.org/index.php/tag/redistricting/ ''Utah House Democrats'', "But is it constitutional?," January 11, 2011]</ref>  Ultimately, Governor Herbert declined to call a special session.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51044445-76/frank-cedar-hills-district.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'', "No special session for redrawing voting districts," January 14, 2011]</ref>
 
An early sign of the process ahead came in the form of the removal, days ahead of the January 24, 2011 beginning of the legislative session, of [[Republican]] Representative for the 57th District [[Craig Frank]].  Frank spent the better part of a decade representing the district but moving to a new house in 2010 put him outside the new boundaries, and cost him his seat.  While the state GOP began calling delegates for a special session to replace him, others tested the waters by asking [[Governor of Utah|Governor]] [[Gary R. Herbert]], a Republican, to convene a special session and redraw the 57th's boundaries to permit Rep. Frank to continue serving.<ref>[http://www.fox13now.com/news/local/kstu-redistricting-leaves-lockhart-out,0,6870338.story ''Fox 13 News'', "Utah County redistricting leaves one representative out of a job," January 10, 2011]</ref>  Almost immediately, Utah [[Democrats]] opposed invoking executive powers or redrawing boundaries for one official.<ref>[http://www.utahhousedemocrats.org/index.php/tag/redistricting/ ''Utah House Democrats'', "But is it constitutional?," January 11, 2011]</ref>  Ultimately, Governor Herbert declined to call a special session.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51044445-76/frank-cedar-hills-district.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'', "No special session for redrawing voting districts," January 14, 2011]</ref>
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Following an assessment of detailed Census data, several areas in the state looked set to gain representation at the state level.  Washington and Davis Counties, as well as the northern portion of Utah County and the southwest of Salt Lake County saw such dramatic growth that the allotment of seats in the Assembly would probably reflect that.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51482789-76/county-seats-utah-lake.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'' "Redistricting winners, losers predicted," March 22, 2011]</ref>  At the high end, some areas of those counties had more than three times the average population of a Utah House seat.
+
Following an assessment of detailed Census data, several areas in the state looked set to gain representation at the state level.  Washington and Davis Counties, as well as the northern portion of Utah County and the southwest of Salt Lake County saw such dramatic growth that the allotment of seats in the Assembly would probably reflect that.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51482789-76/county-seats-utah-lake.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'', "Redistricting winners, losers predicted," March 22, 2011]</ref>  At the high end, some areas of those counties had more than three times the average population of a Utah House seat.
  
 
Of course, when some counties gained seats, others lost.  In 2011, it seemed the area around Orem and Provo and Weber County would give up representation.  A less obvious option would be to increase the size of the House, currently at 75; the Constitution allows it to be as large as 87 members.
 
Of course, when some counties gained seats, others lost.  In 2011, it seemed the area around Orem and Provo and Weber County would give up representation.  A less obvious option would be to increase the size of the House, currently at 75; the Constitution allows it to be as large as 87 members.
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==Legislative maps==
 
==Legislative maps==
  
At the outset, Republican [[Kenneth Sumsion|Ken Sumsion]], the House's Chair, announced the matter of maps for the House and Senate would be a "gentleman's agreement."<ref>[http://www.utahpolicy.com/featured_article/redistricting-committee-gets-down-business ''UtahPolicy.com'', "Redistricting Committee Gets Down to Business," April 26, 2011]</ref>  The panel's first move was to adopt guidelines, which they did on May 4, 2011.  Democrats pushed for recognition and protection of "communities of interest" and for considering the possibility of multi-representative districts.  Both ideas were shut down by majority Republicans.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/51750699-90/districts-committee-democrats-republicans.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'' "Utah GOP downs Dem redistricting proposals," May 4, 2011]</ref>
+
At the outset, Republican [[Kenneth Sumsion|Ken Sumsion]], the House's Chair, announced the matter of maps for the House and Senate would be a "gentleman's agreement."<ref>[http://www.utahpolicy.com/featured_article/redistricting-committee-gets-down-business ''UtahPolicy.com'', "Redistricting Committee Gets Down to Business," April 26, 2011]</ref>  The panel's first move was to adopt guidelines, which they did on May 4, 2011.  Democrats pushed for recognition and protection of "communities of interest" and for considering the possibility of multi-representative districts.  Both ideas were shut down by majority Republicans.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/51750699-90/districts-committee-democrats-republicans.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'', "Utah GOP downs Dem redistricting proposals," May 4, 2011]</ref>
  
Assessing the minority parties chances of impacting the process, one political scientist quipped that the largest opposition to the Utah Republican Party was the Tea party wing of the Utah Republican Party and flatly said Dems had "not a chance" at getting fair representation.<ref>[http://universe.byu.edu/node/15767 ''BYU Universe'', "Concern arises as Utah redraws congressional boundaries," May 2, 2011]</ref>  Democrats resisted the idea that losing safe seats was a foregone conclusion, announcing they would fight any such configuration.  They went further to say that, as the minority party, 'fairness' actually demanded they gain safe seats.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/51840061-90/committee-democratic-democrats-lake.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'' "Democrats say they won't concede loss of seats in redistricting," May 18, 2011]</ref>  
+
Assessing the minority parties chances of impacting the process, one political scientist quipped that the largest opposition to the Utah Republican Party was the Tea party wing of the Utah Republican Party and flatly said Dems had "not a chance" at getting fair representation.<ref>[http://universe.byu.edu/node/15767 ''BYU Universe'', "Concern arises as Utah redraws congressional boundaries," May 2, 2011]</ref>  Democrats resisted the idea that losing safe seats was a foregone conclusion, announcing they would fight any such configuration.  They went further to say that, as the minority party, 'fairness' actually demanded they gain safe seats.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/51840061-90/committee-democratic-democrats-lake.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'', "Democrats say they won't concede loss of seats in redistricting," May 18, 2011]</ref>  
  
 
===Republicans compile draft map for State House===
 
===Republicans compile draft map for State House===
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Amid the onslaught of redistricting, a newspaper poll found overwhelming support for removing authority in the decennial process to a nonpartisan citizen commission.  The ''Salt Lake Tribune'' found 73% of Utah residents would like a less overtly partisan body to take charge of redrawing voting districts.  Only 6% of respondents said they had no clear opinion.
 
Amid the onslaught of redistricting, a newspaper poll found overwhelming support for removing authority in the decennial process to a nonpartisan citizen commission.  The ''Salt Lake Tribune'' found 73% of Utah residents would like a less overtly partisan body to take charge of redrawing voting districts.  Only 6% of respondents said they had no clear opinion.
  
Not surprisingly, legislators saw it differently.  [[Utah State Senate|Senate]] Minority Leader [[Ross Romero]], a Salt Lake [[Democrat]], ran a bill in 2010 that would have created an independent redistricting committee; his effort did not survive its first committee hearing.  [[Republicans]], who had a comfortable majority in the state, pointed to the legislature's sole responsibility for redistricting under the [[Utah Constitution]].  Senator Romero's colleague, Senate President [[Michael Waddoups]], also scoffed at the idea of anyone being unaffected enough by the redistricting process as to be free from biases.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/51146379-90/commission-county-districts-independent.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'' "Utahns want independent redistricting commission," January 30, 2011]</ref>
+
Not surprisingly, legislators saw it differently.  [[Utah State Senate|Senate]] Minority Leader [[Ross Romero]], a Salt Lake [[Democrat]], ran a bill in 2010 that would have created an independent redistricting committee; his effort did not survive its first committee hearing.  [[Republicans]], who had a comfortable majority in the state, pointed to the legislature's sole responsibility for redistricting under the [[Utah Constitution]].  Senator Romero's colleague, Senate President [[Michael Waddoups]], also scoffed at the idea of anyone being unaffected enough by the redistricting process as to be free from biases.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/51146379-90/commission-county-districts-independent.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'', "Utahns want independent redistricting commission," January 30, 2011]</ref>
  
Senator Waddoups may have put his finger on only part of the problem; the poll seemed to indicate that citizens did not necessarily think a commission composed of their fellow voters would be perfectly free of preferences so much as they want to depoliticize the process as much as feasible.  In early February 2011, the Utah Citizens Council, headed by former member of the State Board of Regents Aileen Clyde, called publicly to dissolve the legislature's redistricting power.  Joining Clyde were former Utah Gov. Olene Walker; former University of Utah President Chase Peterson; former Weber State University President Paul Thompson; and former state legislator Karl Snow.  Former Congressmen Jim Hansen (D), and Karen Shepherd (R), also joined the UCC's press conference.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51176469-76/utah-state-redistricting-group.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'' "Group proposes independent panel to study Utah redistricting," February 3, 2011]</ref>
+
Senator Waddoups may have put his finger on only part of the problem; the poll seemed to indicate that citizens did not necessarily think a commission composed of their fellow voters would be perfectly free of preferences so much as they want to depoliticize the process as much as feasible.  In early February 2011, the Utah Citizens Council, headed by former member of the State Board of Regents Aileen Clyde, called publicly to dissolve the legislature's redistricting power.  Joining Clyde were former Utah Gov. Olene Walker; former University of Utah President Chase Peterson; former Weber State University President Paul Thompson; and former state legislator Karl Snow.  Former Congressmen Jim Hansen (D), and Karen Shepherd (R), also joined the UCC's press conference.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51176469-76/utah-state-redistricting-group.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'', "Group proposes independent panel to study Utah redistricting," February 3, 2011]</ref>
  
 
The gain of a seat, the strong partisan flavor of the state, and the still-palpable taste of 2001's gerrymandering all bolstered the push for such an independent body.<ref>[http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705367662/Group-targets-redistricting-effort-in-Utah.html ''Deseret News'', "Group targets redistricting effort in Utah," February 28, 2011]</ref>
 
The gain of a seat, the strong partisan flavor of the state, and the still-palpable taste of 2001's gerrymandering all bolstered the push for such an independent body.<ref>[http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705367662/Group-targets-redistricting-effort-in-Utah.html ''Deseret News'', "Group targets redistricting effort in Utah," February 28, 2011]</ref>
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===Utah Citizen's Council===
 
===Utah Citizen's Council===
  
After efforts to turn redistricting over to an independent commission in 2011 failed, the Utah Citizen's council drew its own.  In all, the plan recommended some variation on a map where Salt Lake City had its own district.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/51824192-90/county-lake-salt-maps.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'' "Group: 4 ways to redraw districts," May 17, 2011]</ref>
+
After efforts to turn redistricting over to an independent commission in 2011 failed, the Utah Citizen's council drew its own.  In all, the plan recommended some variation on a map where Salt Lake City had its own district.<ref>[http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/51824192-90/county-lake-salt-maps.html.csp ''Salt Lake Tribune'', "Group: 4 ways to redraw districts," May 17, 2011]</ref>
  
 
===Speak Up Utah===
 
===Speak Up Utah===

Latest revision as of 06:10, 9 May 2014

Utah

BP Redistricting logo.jpg

General Information
Process:   Senate Redistricting Committee
Deadline:   -
Total Seats to be Drawn
Congress:   4
State Senate:   29
State House:   75
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Following the 2010 Census, Utah received a fourth Congressional seat. In addition to new boundaries for U.S. House Districts, the 2011 redistricting process altered the boundaries of Utah's 29 Senate seats and 75 House seats.

Utah's growth was concentrated in the North, largely within a few urban areas around Salt Lake City. Solid Hispanic growth meant the group made up 13% of Utah population.

Process

The Utah State Legislature is responsible for redistricting. Redistricting plans are proposed and passed like ordinary legislation. As such, the Governor of Utah may veto any redistricting plan.[1] The Joint Redistricting Committee planned to have final maps ready by September 10, 2011, in advance of the special session planned for the second week of October.[2]

Leadership

In Utah, the Joint Redistricting Committee of the Utah Legislature drafts district boundaries. That committee, selected by Speaker of the House Rebecca Lockhart and Senate President Michael Waddoups in April 2011, held 18 hearings around the state. In the fall the legislature convened in a special session to pass the new maps.[3]

Three of these members, Biskupski, Waddoups, and Davis, also sat on the 2001 committee.[4] Once named, the membership came under fire for failing to include any non-whites, in a state where 20% of the residents are Hispanic.[5]

Efforts to transition to a citizen populated commission had not been successful, but continued in the hopes of making such a change for the 2020 Census and 2021 redistricting. A Democratic bid to include attention to "communities of interest" also failed to make it into the final guidelines for redistricting.

Two sets of software were debuted for the redistricting work, one for legislators and one free version for citizens to draft their own maps, something designed to make it easier for citizens to propose boundaries.[6][7]

The state maintained two websites for citizens concerning redistricting: the official legislative site and an informational site called "Redistrict Utah".[8]

Officially named on the 6th of April, committee membership was as follows:[9]

For the House:

For the Senate:

Public hearings

The committee completed its schedule of 17 public hearings around the state and was expected to adopt a final plan in September 2011. The legislature was expected to take up the plans in October 2011.[12] Audio and minutes from the Joint Redistricting Committee's public hearings can be found here.

Special session announced

On August 31, 2011, Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) announced an October 3, 2011 special session to address state redistricting. The legislature's redistricting committee met three more times in advance of the session. The state's primary controversy was redistricting in and around Salt Lake City.[13][14]

GRAMA requests filed

Following the completion of Utah's redistricting process, Republicans and Democrats began investigating the conduct of their respective political rivals. Both parties filed a Government Records Access and Management Act request, seeking communications regarding the redistricting process. Although Democrats were still fighting over fees associated with the request (as of December 11, 2011), Republicans had obtained over 1,000 pages of information. This information, said Republicans, revealed that Democratic lawmakers worked behind the scenes to determine the political impact of redistricting proposals. The GOP called the actions hypocritical in light of Democratic calls for greater transparency. Democrats, however, argued that their actions were primarily defensive and were aimed at combating shady tactics on the part of state Republicans.[15]

Republican legislative leaders on November 16, 2012 posted some 16,000 redistricting related documents online after Democrats sued for their release. According to Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis, his party was told the work would cost approximately $5,000. However, when they went to pick up the records, they were told the cost was actually $14,250. For their $5,000 Democrats were allowed access to one of the three boxes of records. Republican Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart said her party decided to finally post all the records online because the taxpayers had paid for the cost that Democrats did not pick up and there was no reason to spend any additional money in the courts.[16][17]

Census results

With the February 24th 2011, release of summary data for Utah, the state's decade of growth was put into numbers. Salt Lake City grew 14.6%, impressive but by no means the top. Utah County clocked up 40.2% growth while Washington County exploded at 52.9%. Still, it came in second to the fastest growing part of Utah, suburban Wasatch County with 55% gain.[18] In all, Utah's 23.6% population gain was enough to add a Congressional seat.

At the state level, Senate seats had approximately 96,000, with House seats coming in around 36,000.

Hispanics in Utah increased 78%; the group represented 13% of the state's residents. Minorities saw most of their gain in the under-18 demographic. That lined up with the rest of the data, showing the 70% of Utah's population increase owed to the birthrate.[19]

Democrats also got bad news as at least two of their House seats, along with one or more Senate seats, were at risk of being merged in order to accommodate population gains in Republican leaning areas.[20][21][22]

For their part, Utah Republicans planned a 'war room' at state party headquarters and appealed to party members to donate toward stocking the room with flat screen televisions and computers in order to combine Census data with political data and maximize the GOP position.[23]

Congressional maps

Overview

Figure 1: This map shows the Utah Congressional Districts after the 2000 census.

2011 brought a new district to Utah, a welcome result for a state that missed adding to its electoral heft in 2000 by only 857 residents.[24] With the 2010 Census and Utah population trends in the 2000s - impressive at 24%, state lawmakers were fairly confident they would pick up a 4th District.[25]

Like other Western states, Utah's population was concentrated in urban areas that represented a small portion of the state's land, something that led to scrutiny of how the legislature would apportion Congressional seats to be equal, at roughly 691,000 residents each, and take the entire state into consideration.[26] Early maps showed one enormous rural district alongside relatively compact seats centered around Salt Lake City.[27]

An early sign of the process ahead came in the form of the removal, days ahead of the January 24, 2011 beginning of the legislative session, of Republican Representative for the 57th District Craig Frank. Frank spent the better part of a decade representing the district but moving to a new house in 2010 put him outside the new boundaries, and cost him his seat. While the state GOP began calling delegates for a special session to replace him, others tested the waters by asking Governor Gary R. Herbert, a Republican, to convene a special session and redraw the 57th's boundaries to permit Rep. Frank to continue serving.[28] Almost immediately, Utah Democrats opposed invoking executive powers or redrawing boundaries for one official.[29] Ultimately, Governor Herbert declined to call a special session.[30]

Scenarios


KRQE news look at redistricting on April 1, 2011.

Following an assessment of detailed Census data, several areas in the state looked set to gain representation at the state level. Washington and Davis Counties, as well as the northern portion of Utah County and the southwest of Salt Lake County saw such dramatic growth that the allotment of seats in the Assembly would probably reflect that.[31] At the high end, some areas of those counties had more than three times the average population of a Utah House seat.

Of course, when some counties gained seats, others lost. In 2011, it seemed the area around Orem and Provo and Weber County would give up representation. A less obvious option would be to increase the size of the House, currently at 75; the Constitution allows it to be as large as 87 members.

Heavily red as it was, Utah was not without its Democratic enclaves. For the 112th Congress, the 2nd District, covering Salt Lake City, lay in Democratic hands. Still, the state legislature was GOP territory, and the state's new seat presented two options.

Were Salt Lake City to be its own seat, it would be a reliably blue district, and it would also pack the bulk of Utah's Democrats into that single district, making the other three seats easy wins for the GOP.

Alternately, Salt Lake City could be carved up and each of the state's four seats could claim part of it, with the rest of the area in Utah radiating out from the capitol city. Such a plan would dilute Democratic strength and leave all four districts winnable for Republicans but not make them easy victories.

A version of the former plan was drawn up years ago, when Utah Republicans first began to think their state would gain a seat in the 2010 Census. Such a plan might give rise to more competitive Democratic primaries for the Salt Lake City seat.[32]

Utah, an easy GOP win with only four electoral votes, still got impressive attention when policy groups sat down to think about alternate ways for the state to handle its Congressional delegation. One suggestion was to make Utah County the seat and core of the newly awarded fourth seat in the U.S. House. Utah's Daily Herald christened it "an idea whose time has come" and simply declared, "It's natural."[33] That suggestion pointed to the county's own borders and their easy fit with redistricting, as well as to the undeniably rightwing flavor a seat anchored in Utah County would have:

"Critics complain that congressional boundaries can be gerrymandered, cutting up well-defined communities into strange shapes in an effort to shift votes. Well, a congressional district with Utah County as its foundation would not be subject to the charge. It would be just the opposite of gerrymandering by preserving an obvious political, social and geographic unit...It's absurd to expect the House of Representatives to be made up solely of bland, wishy-washy "moderates." Rather, it should, on the whole, represent a wide spectrum of beliefs. A fourth district with a core in Utah County would help make sure the political right had its proper share of Washington, D.C...Democrats across the fruited plain are even now attempting to create staunchly liberal districts. It's prudent for conservatives to inject some of their own into that mix."

If that idea called for admitting that there are definite pockets where one party simply dominates politics and allowing voters to elect officials in line with that, a FairVote.org plan went the other way, and called for maximizing the fidelity of Congressmen to their citizens with at-large seats:

"If Utah was to be transformed into a single super district, the effects of gerrymandering would be eliminated because scattered support can elect a representative if votes are concentrated into a single candidate. The state as a whole would simply elect four representatives. Also, population shifts wouldn't distort representation because all votes would be equal no matter where the voter lives within the state. For example, a voter who lives in the southeast portion of the state could vote for a candidate in the northwest portion of the state, a feat that would be impossible in a winner-take-all system."

Of that later idea, UtahPolicy.com gave it, impolitely but perhaps not inaccurately, "a snowball's chance in Hades."[34]

Sumsion presents draft map

At the first public meeting, held May 20, 2011 in Lehi, Kenneth Sumsion, a Republican member of the House, presented a draft of his Congressional map, one that used the "donut hole" method of drawing three seats spanning the state and surrounding the last seat, which covered most of the Salt Lake City area.[35] That plan bothered other Republicans in the legislature who wanted districts shaped like pie slices pointing it at Salt Lake City and Democrats who felt splitting Salt Lake County, as Sumsion's map did, was a ploy to keep their from winning the seat.

Sumsion held that SLC was not the only community of interest, asking citizens to consider the merits of keeping Utah County, a heavily conservative area that also happened to be Sumsion's home, intact.[36]

Another Republican, Senate President Michael Waddoups, had two issues with Sumsion's map. Waddoups felt that, if Salt Lake City was to be split, it should be north-south and not the east-west break Sumsion drew. He also backed the 'pizza slice' or 'bicycle spoke' plan in order to put some government owned land in each of Utah's Congressional seat, then leveraging that into more input at the federal level on regulations governing public land.[37]

Waddoups offers draft map

After criticizing the "donut hole" map offered by Rep. Kenneth Sumsion (R) in May, Senate President Michael Waddoups (R) offered his own version of a "donut hole" map. Currently, left-leaning Salt Lake County is divided among several US House districts with none of them entirely within the county. County Democrats argued that this arrangement was intended to dilute Democratic votes. A "donut hole," or a district entirely contained within the county, had been suggested as a solution to these concerns. While some Republicans feared this arrangement would weaken Republican Congressional representation, Waddoups plan succeeds in creating a Republican-leaning "donut hole" district. The plan excludes many of the county's Democratic strongholds and combines several Republican areas south of Salt Lake City. The remaining, Democratic areas would continue to be paired with rural Utah.[38][39]

Meetings end, submissions reviewed

On August 19, 2011, The Utah legislative redistricting committee met to review plans submitted during the state’s public input period. The committee completed its schedule of 17 public hearings around the state and was expected to adopt a final plan in September 2011. The legislature expected to take up the plans in October. The fate of Utah County remained central to the debate on the maps. While locals called for their own Congressional district, the Republican legislative majority may have been unwilling to create a Democrat-leaning Utah County district.[40]

Draft maps whittled down

Utah’s Redistricting Committee met Thursday, September 22, 2011 to narrow down its options on new maps for the state’s congressional Districts. The committee ultimately selected six plans for further consideration on September 27, 2011. Five of the six plans were “pizzas,” dividing the Democratic urban center of Salt Lake City amongst the surrounding, largely rural districts. This plan had been opposed by Salt Lake County lawmakers, but supported by some lawmakers from neighboring Utah County. Only one of the plans was a "doughnut hole," the plan favored by Democrats and several redistricting reform groups. This plan would give Salt Lake City its own congressional district. Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon (D), a supporter of the "doughnut hole," was urging voters to sign a petition supporting districts that preserve communities and neighborhoods.[41][42][43][44]

  • The six maps under consideration can be found here.

Committee recommends map

On Tuesday, September 27, 2011, Utah's Joint Redistricting Committee adopted a modified "doughnut hole" proposal for the state's congressional districts. The plan, a modified version of the Kenneth Sumsion (R) plan proposed earlier in the year, drew the new Fourth District to include the western half of Republican-heavy Utah County and the southern half of Salt Lake County. The remainder of Salt Lake County was split into two districts. Salt Lake City, kept intact under the plan, was paired with Tooele County in a district stretching to San Juan County and covering the state's entire south. The southeastern part of Salt Lake County and the eastern portion of Utah County were paired in the Second District, now stretching only as far south as Grand County.

Democrats, who had called for a Salt Lake City centered district, sharply criticized the maps. Utah Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis said the map "disenfranchised" Democratic voters. Salt Lake County Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Bishop called the map deeply saddening. Interestingly, the plan drew all of US Rep. Jim Matheson’s (D) announced Republican challengers outside the new District 2. Some could have run from outside the district, one was considering a move. Federal law did not require congressmen to live in their district. Matheson himself suggested he may seek election in the newly created district.[45][46][47][48]

On Wednesday, the Governor formally called a special session for Monday, October 3, 2011. The session was expected to last around three days.[49][50]

  • The recommended map can be found here.

Special session deadlocks, adjourns to Oct. 17

On Tuesday, October 4, 2011, the Utah House and Utah Senate deadlocked over the state's new congressional districts. On October 3, 2011, the senate passed the maps recommended by the Joint Redistricting Committee. However, house Republicans attempted to make significant revisions to the plan. Senate Republicans threw their support behind a compromise plan drafted by Democratic senator Ben McAdams. The house GOP was pushing an alternative plan drafted by Rep. Don Ipson (R). Democrats voiced support for the McAdams plan, agreeing not to sue if it is adopted. Citing a need for more time, the legislature recessed until October 17, 2011.[51] Prior to the special session, Senate President Michael Waddoups (R) said that committee's proposed plans had a "98% chance" of passage.[52] The plans could also be stalled by a gubernatorial veto, Waddoups noted that Governor Gary Herbert (R) "doesn't particularly like" the committee's doughnut-hole approach.[53] Critics of the process protested outside the Capitol, arguing that the committee's version of the doughnut-hole did not go far enough in fairly representing urban interests.[54]

Congressional maps approved

On October 17, 2011, House and Senate Republicans reached a compromise on the state's congressional redistricting plan. The approved map, passed 50-19 in the House and 20-5 in the Senate, was a modified version of the plan previously passed by the Joint Redistricting Committee and the State Senate. The modified version was prepared by the House after its earlier proposal (very loosely based on a citizen-drawn map) was rejected by the Senate and sharply criticized by its original author. The final version, however, did not satisfied opponents who charged that legislators deliberately targeted US Rep. Jim Matheson (D) for elimination. Matheson's district was 60%-65% Republican. GOP estimated suggest that Matheson's new District 2 contained only 31% of its existing voters. Opponents worried that the new lines would make it possible for the GOP to capture all four of Utah's US House seats.[55][56]

Both Democrats and Republicans threatened lawsuits during the process. Republicans threatened to sue if a safe Democratic seat was created, but none was created. Democrats, on the other hand, planned to go forward with their lawsuit, arguing that the new map is unfair and gerrymandered.[57]

Governor signs maps

Gary Herbert (R) signed the legislative maps on October 19, 2011 and the congressional maps on October 20, 2011.[58]

Legislative maps

At the outset, Republican Ken Sumsion, the House's Chair, announced the matter of maps for the House and Senate would be a "gentleman's agreement."[59] The panel's first move was to adopt guidelines, which they did on May 4, 2011. Democrats pushed for recognition and protection of "communities of interest" and for considering the possibility of multi-representative districts. Both ideas were shut down by majority Republicans.[60]

Assessing the minority parties chances of impacting the process, one political scientist quipped that the largest opposition to the Utah Republican Party was the Tea party wing of the Utah Republican Party and flatly said Dems had "not a chance" at getting fair representation.[61] Democrats resisted the idea that losing safe seats was a foregone conclusion, announcing they would fight any such configuration. They went further to say that, as the minority party, 'fairness' actually demanded they gain safe seats.[62]

Republicans compile draft map for State House

After circulating several regional maps, the legislative Republicans combined the maps into a single draft map for Utah House of Representatives. The plan, which laid out boundaries for Utah's 75 house districts, paired a number of incumbents. In its present form, the map contained 3 districts where Democrats were paired together, 3 districts that paired Republicans, and 1 district with a bi-partisan match-up. Democrats argued that the map's new lines in Salt Lake City could significantly weaken the city' representation by pairing Democratic incumbents. Rep. Merlynn Newbold (R), who helped craft the plan, argued that pairing legislators was not an objective of the plan and that a concern for "one person, one vote" and the preservation of local boundaries guided the process. Rep. Kenneth Sumsion (R), chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, noted that plans were only a first draft and would be modified.[63][64]

Meetings end, submissions reviewed

On August 19, 2011, the Utah legislative redistricting committee met to review plans submitted during the state’s public input period. The fate of Utah County remained central to the debate on the maps. The county grew by 40% since 2001 and could warrant two additional house districts (14 total) and two additional senate districts (five total). Locals called for increased legislative representation but feared the county could be cannibalized to bolster neighboring rural districts. While a five-district senate plan seemed likely, lawmakers were more divided on districts for the House of Representatives. One plan, submitted by Kay McIff (R), would only give the county one extra seat (13 total). However, Rep. Kenneth Sumsion (R), chair of the redistricting committee, seemed to back a 14-member plan. The committee completed its schedule of 17 public hearings around the state and was expected to adopt a final plan in September. The legislature expected to take up the plans in October.[65][66]

Committee approves preliminary maps

On September 13, 2011, Utah's Joint Redistricting Committee approved preliminary plans for the state's house and senate districts. The plan paired 12 incumbents, 10 house members and two senators. The maps showed a transfer of seats from Salt Lake County (which experienced sluggish growth) to faster-growing Utah County. Salt Lake County lost one senate seat, and two house seats. Utah County gained one senate seat and one and a half house seats. While the house map won praise for pairing a redistricting committee member (Republican Todd Kiser), the senate map drew more controversy for dividing Tooele County and allegedly favoring incumbents. Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis, sharply criticized the senate plan, calling it a "disaster."[67] Approval came less than a week after controversy over the fairness of the senate map prompted a series of revisions.[68][69][70][71]

  • The preliminary maps can be found here.

Legislative maps approved

Despite the impasse over congressional redistricting, lawmakers did manage to pass the committee’s legislative redistricting plans (with modifications) prior to the recess. Both plans received bipartisan support. The Senate plan passed 25-1 (3 absent, all Republicans) in the Senate and 60-9 (6 absent, all Republicans) in the House. The House plan passed 26-1 (2 absent, 1 Democrat/1 Republican) in the Senate and 71-1 (3 absent, 1 Democrat, 2 Republicans) in the House. Republicans held a 22-7 advantage in the Senate and a 58-17 advantage in the House. The plan was expected to increase the political clout of Utah County.[72][73][74]

  • The approved Senate map can be found here.
  • The committee-adopted Senate map can be found here.
  • The approved House map can be found here.
  • The committee-adopted House map can be found here.

Governor signs maps

Gary Herbert (R) signed the legislative maps on October 19, 2011 and the congressional maps on October 20, 2011.[75]

Tweaks approved

On January 26, 2012 Utah lawmakers from both chambers unanimously approved revisions to the state's recently-approved state legislative redistricting maps . The revisions addressed errors discovered by several county clerks. The bills moved to the opposite chamber for concurrence and then to the Governor's desk for his signature.[76]

Reform legislation

Push for an independent commission

Amid the onslaught of redistricting, a newspaper poll found overwhelming support for removing authority in the decennial process to a nonpartisan citizen commission. The Salt Lake Tribune found 73% of Utah residents would like a less overtly partisan body to take charge of redrawing voting districts. Only 6% of respondents said they had no clear opinion.

Not surprisingly, legislators saw it differently. Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero, a Salt Lake Democrat, ran a bill in 2010 that would have created an independent redistricting committee; his effort did not survive its first committee hearing. Republicans, who had a comfortable majority in the state, pointed to the legislature's sole responsibility for redistricting under the Utah Constitution. Senator Romero's colleague, Senate President Michael Waddoups, also scoffed at the idea of anyone being unaffected enough by the redistricting process as to be free from biases.[77]

Senator Waddoups may have put his finger on only part of the problem; the poll seemed to indicate that citizens did not necessarily think a commission composed of their fellow voters would be perfectly free of preferences so much as they want to depoliticize the process as much as feasible. In early February 2011, the Utah Citizens Council, headed by former member of the State Board of Regents Aileen Clyde, called publicly to dissolve the legislature's redistricting power. Joining Clyde were former Utah Gov. Olene Walker; former University of Utah President Chase Peterson; former Weber State University President Paul Thompson; and former state legislator Karl Snow. Former Congressmen Jim Hansen (D), and Karen Shepherd (R), also joined the UCC's press conference.[78]

The gain of a seat, the strong partisan flavor of the state, and the still-palpable taste of 2001's gerrymandering all bolstered the push for such an independent body.[79]

Citizen activism

Fair Boundaries initiative

A citizen initiated petition drive to put an item on the November ballot for switching control of redistricting to a citizen commission failed in the spring of 2011. With a March 17, 2011 deadline to turn in 95,000 signatures, the effort, led by Glenn Wright, only amassed 50,000 before running out of time.[80]

Had it passed, the initiative would have set up a citizen commission in time to oversee the current redistricting process, giving the legislature a veto-like final say on the plans. Wright said he still hoped the legislature did more to listen to and involve citizens through 2011's process.

Eventually, the core members of "Fair Boundaries" turned toward pressuring lawmakers for transparency and unbiased district borders, speaking out at rallies in Salt Lake City. One event, on Saturday, April 9, 2011, drew members of both the Tea Party and its left-leaning equivalent, the Coffee Party.[81] Also taking part in the rallies was a second advocacy group for redistricting reform, "Represent Me Utah."[82][83]

Fair Boundaries maps drawn by Democratic adviser

In late September 2011, the Fair Boundaries group drew controversy after it was learned that their model redistricting plan was drafted by Democratic adviser and former party executive director, Todd Taylor. In explanation, the group cited financial reasons and said that Taylor, who volunteered and has access to the necessary software, agreed to strictly adhere to the groups guidelines. While Senate President Michael Waddoups (R) said the revelation damaged the group's credibility, Democratic Party Chair Jim Debakis said that many Democrats actually disliked the groups proposal.[84]

Utah Citizen's Council

After efforts to turn redistricting over to an independent commission in 2011 failed, the Utah Citizen's council drew its own. In all, the plan recommended some variation on a map where Salt Lake City had its own district.[85]

Speak Up Utah

An organization called Speak Up Utah! created a website with a petition to keep communities whole, which gathered more than 5,000 signatures over the course of several weeks. In particular, the petition was aimed at Senator Michael Waddoups who called some members of the public "broken records." The Speak Up Utah! coalition was comprised of Alliance for a Better Utah, Fair Boundaries, League of Women Voters of Utah, Represent Me Utah and the Utah Citizens' Counsel.[86]

This coalition also organized a rally (media coverage here & here) held October 3, 2011 at the Utah State Capitol to discourage lawmakers from adopting a so-called "pizza slice" plan, which divided Salt Lake County into 3 or 4 separate districts and combined each with a larger rural area.

Calls For Veto

Several major Utah news outlets joined citizen activist groups in calling on Governor Gary Herbert (R) to veto the Utah congressional map passed October 17, 2011. Editorials include:

Legal issues

Utah Democrats threaten lawsuit

In late July 2011, Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis warned Republican lawmakers against drawing maps in a partisan fashion. Concerned about an attempt to weaken US Rep. Jim Matheson (D, Dabakis warned, "If the legislature pushes it too far, we'll see them in court." In response to the threat, Redistricting Committee Co-Chairman Ralph Okerlund (R) argued that process has been unprecedentedly "fair and inclusive."[87] Debakis reiterated his threat in August 2011, stating, "We still live in the United States and there are constraints on what they can do...If they pass over those constraints, if they are unfair and illegal, we intend to go to court." Debakis also suggested that the public process has been a "dog-and-pony show."[88] Speaker of the House Rebecca Lockhart (R) stated that she believed a lawsuit, whether by Democrats or otherwise, was unavoidable.[89]

History

Figure 2: This map shows the Utah House Districts after the 2000 census.
Figure 3: This map shows the Utah Senate Districts after the 2000 census.

2001 redistricting

Deviation from "Ideal Districts"

2000 Population Deviation[90]
Office Percentage
Congressional Districts 0.00%
State House Districts 8.00%
State Senate Districts 7.02%
Under federal law, districts may vary from an 'Ideal District' by up to 10%, though the lowest number achievable is preferred. 'Ideal Districts' are computed through simple division of the number of seats for any office into the population at the time of the Census.

Constitutional explanation

The Utah Constitution provides authority to the Legislature for Congressional redistricting in Section 1 of Article IX and for legislative redistricting in Section 2 of Article IX.

Ballot measures

The following measures have appeared on the Utah ballot pertaining to redistricting.

See also

External links

References

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  4. Utah Policy.com, "Redistricting work gets underway in one week," April 18, 2011
  5. ABC 4 "Exclusive: Latino legislators unhappy over all white Redistricting Committee," April 25, 2011
  6. Desert News, "New software lets Utahns propose redistricting plans," April 25, 2011
  7. Salt Lake City Examiner, "GOP shuts down primaries, democrats on Utah redistricting committee," May 11, 2011
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