Utah Redistricting: Salt Lake, Utah And Washington Counties Could See The Biggest Changes In Their Legislative Maps
Salt Lake, Utah and Washington counties could see the biggest changes in the shapes of their state legislative districts, according to Jerry Howe with the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel.
Howe gave a presentation Monday to the Legislative Redistricting Committee about the impact of new population data from the census.
The population in some districts in southwestern Salt Lake County, northwestern Utah County and western Washington County have exploded in the past decade.
Now, the state has to make them smaller so they end up with roughly the same amount of people as others around the state.
That could lead to a ripple effect since the areas around them will have to absorb more people — which could make those secondary ones too big.
“People will draw a lot of maps through those different paths,” Howe said. “You will chase the ripples up the state to see which ones are acceptable, which ones are not, what trade-offs have to be made to to take any particular path that you choose.”
Ultimately, those shifts could mean that residents end up in a new district — with a new representative — than they’re in now.
The state Legislature and the governor will make the final decision on what the maps look like, but lawmakers are encouraging the public to submit their own suggested versions.
Redistricting Committee Co-Chair Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said the public has to submit maps for the entire state, not just their own area “because of that ripple effect.”
“It's so easy to draw your district,” Ray said, “but when you have to smooth out the edges and fit everybody in, it's a whole different ball game.”
The software the public can use to draw their own maps is expected to be up and running on the Legislature’s website by early September.
The committee’s next public hearing is Sept. 2 at the state Capitol.
A full list of public hearings is available here.