Utah Redistricting: Everything You Need To Know
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Frequently Asked Questions
Did we miss something? What questions do you have about redistricting in Utah? Ask KUER politics reporters Sonja Hutson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Emily Means (email@example.com).
Why do we have to go through the redistricting process ?
Every 10 years the U.S. Census Bureau releases new data about the number of people that live in a state, and where in the state they live. That data is being released Thursday, Aug. 12. Because districts need to have roughly the same amount of people in them, they can shift. Redistricting ensures one area doesn’t have a much bigger population than another.
Why should people care?
The way that these lines are drawn impacts who you get to vote for on the state school board and who your representatives are in Congress and the state Legislature. That can impact party representation and power in those governmental bodies.
Who gets to draw these new maps?
The Utah Legislature, the Independent Redistricting Commission and regular citizens get to draw these maps. This is the first time that Utah is redistricting with an independent commission in place, which exists because of a 2018 ballot initiative.
However, the commission is just advisory. So the Legislature and the governor make the ultimate decision on what the maps will look like. Both the Legislature and the commission are holding a series of public hearings across the state to help them in this process.
Both the commission and the public will submit their maps to the Legislature. Then the lawmakers draw their own. They're planning to finish by Thanksgiving. In December, the governor will either sign or veto them.
After the census has been completed and the state goes through its redistricting process, what criteria are in place to ensure that this is a bipartisan and fair redistricting, so it doesn't advantage either party in the upcoming elections? What is in place to prevent gerrymandering?
The Legislature and the governor have the ultimate authority over drawing the maps. Although the independent commission has no formal power, they do provide an extra level of transparency to the process. Voters can examine the way the commission’s suggested maps are different from what the Legislature ultimately adopts.
If voters are unhappy, they can try to hold lawmakers accountable by meeting with them or voting them out of office. That's not an incredibly strong check on the Legislature’s power, but it's more than existed before.
People can always sue over the maps, but because of a 2019 U.S. Supreme Court decision, they can only do that now at the state court level, not in federal court. Citizens could bring something to the federal courts if it's a claim of racial discrimination, though.
What should people be paying attention to as this process unfolds?
If someone is interested and wants to get involved in the process, pay attention to when a public hearing is coming to a city near you. A list of the meetings is further down this page.
What will KUER be watching for?
KUER will be looking for the differences between the independent commission’s maps and the Legislature's maps.
We’ve got our eye on the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Salt Lake City and a huge swath of rural Utah — two really different areas. There's concern about that from both places.
We’ll also be paying attention to what happens to the 4th Congressional District, which is the state's only swing district. We’ll see if the new boundaries make the district lean to the right or left — or if the partisan makeup stays mostly the same.
There are two state House districts in Moab that are interesting because they basically split the city in half. There will likely be some discussions about whether that's fair.
KUER's Caroline Ballard contributed to this report.
Upcoming Public Hearings
● Monday, Aug. 16 at 11:00 a.m. at the State Capitol
● Thursday, Sept. 2 at 10:00 a.m. at the State Capitol
● Wednesday, Sept. 8 at 6:00 p.m. in Grantsville
● Thursday, Sept. 9 at 2:00 p.m. in Ogden
● Thursday, Sept. 9 at 7:00 p.m. in Logan
● Monday, Sept. 13 at 6:00 p.m. in Orem
● Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 7:00 p.m. in Rose Park
● Friday, Sept. 24 at 1:00 p.m. in Cedar City
● Saturday, Sept. 25 at 10:00 a.m. in St. George
● Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 10:00 a.m. in Richfield
● Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 6:00 p.m. in Moab
● Thursday, Oct. 7 at 1:00 p.m. in Price
● Friday, Oct. 8 at 10:00 a.m. in Vernal
● Friday, Oct. 8 at 6:00 p.m. in Park City
● Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 6:00 p.m. in Clearfield
● Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 6:00 p.m. at the State Capitol
● Monday, Nov. 1 at 6:00 p.m. at the State Capitol
● Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 9:00 a.m. at the State Capitol
● Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 9:00 a.m. at the State Capitol
- Friday, Sept. 3 in Monticello
- Saturday, Sept. 4 in Ephraim
- Tuesday, Sept. 7 in Tooele
- Thursday, Sept. 9 at the Utah State Fair in Salt Lake City
- Friday, Sept. 10 in Logan
- Saturday, Sept. 11 in Layton
- Wednesday, Sept. 15 in Herriman
- Friday, Sept. 17 in Washington
- Saturday, Sept. 18 in Cedar City
- Friday, Sept. 24 in Duchesne
- Saturday, Sept. 25 in Heber
- Friday, Oct. 1 in Glendale
- Saturday, Oct. 2 in Saratoga Springs
- Saturday, Oct. 16 in West Valley