LOGAN – Utah’s Independent Redistricting Commission (UIRC) has slated a public hearing in Cache Valley on Saturday, Oct. 16.
That opportunity for local residents to review the UIRC’s proposed voting boundary maps for congressional, state senate, state house and school board districts will be held from 11 am to 2 p.m. in the Taggart Student Center at 650 North and 800 East on the campus of Utah State University.
“The UIRC has been traveling the state for the last month to hear from communities all over Utah,” according to commission spokesperson Julianne Kidd.
“We want the public to review these maps and let us know how they measure up,” Kidd added, “so we are excited to hear Logan’s input.”
Under state Proposition 4, which was narrowly approved by Utah voters in 2018, the once-a-decade process of redrawing statewide political boundaries is now a combined effort by the traditional redistricting committee made up of state lawmakers and an independent panel of appointed citizen representatives.
Those bodies are required to cooperate to provide a greater degree of transparency to the redistricting process.
Kidd emphasizes that Cache Valley residents have a particular stake in the bipartisan commission’s work because their former state Sen. Lyle Hillyard and former congressional Rep. Rob Bishop are among the seven members appointed to that panel.
Kidd explains that attending a public hearing like the one scheduled on Oct. 16 at USU is the easiest way for the public to participate in the redistricting process. Such gatherings allow commission members to understand local communities and solicit feedback on proposed district maps and boundaries.
According to population data belatedly released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Aug. 12, Utahns now number 3.27 million, up from 2.7 million in 2010, an increase of more than 18 percent. That translates to nearly 40 persons per square mile, with the majority of the population increase occurring unsurprisingly in urban areas.
That factor alone heightens the challenge facing the members of Utah’s Legislative Redistricting Committee and the Independent Redistricting Commission, since much of their focus must be directed toward maintaining the integrity of so-called “communities of interest” in metropolitan areas.
A community of interest is a gathering of people who share a common bond. Its members may share an attachment to certain goals, information, traditions or memberships that may also be associated with geographic areas.
The compilation of 2020 Census data was delayed nationwide by the coronavirus pandemic. Now that members of Utah’s independent commission finally have access to those population figures, they are required to deliver their proposed district maps to the Legislative Committee for review by Nov. 30 to ensure that those new boundaries are approved prior to the 2022 election cycle.
Possibly at stake in the current redistricting process is the Republicans’ continued dominance of politics at all levels of government in Utah. The GOP currently has super-majorities in both the state House and Senate, with margins of 59–16 and 23–6 respectively, and similar majorities in most cities and counties.
Local lawmakers Sen. Scott Sandall (R-District 17) and Rep. Joel Ferry (R-District 1) are among the 20 members of the Legislative Redistricting Committee.
Kidd says that the members of the UIRC have drafted more than 20 redistricting maps. Cache Valley residents can review those proposals online prior to the public hearing at USU at http://uirc.utah.gov