Utah
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by hybrid commission system
State BoundariesDrawn by hybrid commission system
Governor's PartyRepublican
Legislative PartyRepublican

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

State Legislative

Alert:
High

Congressional

Alert:
High

Related content

Process

Hybrid Commission System

Beginning in 2021, Utah's state legislative and congressional districts will be drawn first by a seven-member independent advisory redistricting commission, which will provide drafts and recommendations to the Legislature. The governor, the four legislative leaders, the leadership of the majority Senate party, and the leadership of the minority Senate party each select one member for the commission. The Legislature must be presented with the independent commission’s maps, but it does not have to vote on them, a rollback of the 2018 Better Boundaries Utah ballot initiative.

Criteria

While Utah, like all states, must follow the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Utah’s state constitution does not list additional criteria. That being said, Utah’s recently amended state statutes (Code § 20A-20-302) require that districts be contiguous, compact, preserve communities of interest, preserve geographic and political subdivisions, and preserve the cores of prior districts. Intentionally favoring or disfavoring an incumbent, party, or candidate for office is prohibited.

Public Input

The new advisory commission also brings with it new public input requirements. In 2021, the Commission must hold at least seven public hearings by August 1, one per region: Bear River, Southwest, Mountain, Central, Southeast, Uintah Basin, and Wasatch Front. There must also be at least two public hearings in different first or second class counties. In addition to these hearings, the Commission must create a website to disseminate information (including proposed plans), to allow live-stream and archived meetings, and to accept public comment and map submissions.

Issues

Pitfalls

Both chambers of the Legislature are controlled by Republican supermajorities. Under SB200, which rolled back the 2018 Better Boundaries initiative, the Legislature will still have final control over redistricting, as it is not bound to the maps proposed by the advisory commission. Thus, single-party control in the Legislature increases the risk of partisan gerrymandering.

Reform Rollbacks

The new hybrid commission was originally established through Utah Provision 4, a 2018 citizen ballot initiative. However, the Governor signed the bill SB200 in 2020, which reflected a compromise between Better Boundaries Utah and the Legislature in order to prevent an outright repeal of the initiative. SB200 rolls back some of the initiative’s original reforms: it removes the requirement that the Legislature vote on the commission’s proposals and follow specific redistricting criteria, eliminates the role of the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court in redistricting, and gets rid of the right of private citizen lawsuits if the Legislature approves maps different than the commission.

Actions

Stop legislators from further reversing recent redistricting reforms, while pushing for a true independent redistricting commission.

  • Write to your local news organization in support of the advisory commission system.
  • Read the Common Cause Activist Handbook on Redistricting Reform to learn about what reforms have been successful in the past, and what steps to take to enact reform in the future. 

In 2021, participate in the Commission’s public input process.

  • Obtain Utah redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the advisory commission starts collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Contacts

League of Women Voters of Utah

Better Boundaries

Alliance for a Better Utah

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia