In 2021 we, as Democrats and engaged community members, need to be paying close attention the process of redistricting (the redrawing of political boundaries to better reflect the current population). This process occurs every ten years, after the census, as was delayed by several months this year due to the pandemic. We now have the data, and the redistricting process is in full swing. How the political lines are drawn will affect our representation at the state and federal level for the next ten years.
What’s at stake?
We don’t have a single representative at the state or federal level who is from Summit County. In previous redistricting cycles, our community has been pulled into different state legislative districts, diluting our voice in Utah government. These districts don’t just affect who runs for office and where, but they also determine how financial resources are allocated for public services like schools, roads, hospitals, and healthcare facilities.
Because of delays in 2020 census data, there’s a much shorter timeframe for drawing district maps than is typical. This means there is less time for debate and to scrutinize the maps. The districts that are drawn this year will shape our lives and communities for the next decade – now is the time to speak up.
Who is drawing the maps?
In 2018 Utah voters passed a ballot initiative creating the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission, an independent, bipartisan group that will recommend political district maps to the legislature. The independent commission is only advisory, though, and the Utah legislature ultimately decides which maps to adopt. There is also a Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee, consisting of 20 members of the legislature, who are actively drawing maps. To make a difference and advocate for our community, we need to give our input to both of these groups.
How can we help ensure a fairer process?
- Submit a “community of interest” map to the Utah Independent Redistricting
Commission. A community of interest is a population that shares cultural, historical or economic interests, and the independent commission is taking these communities into account. No one knows our communities better than the people who live in them – they need to hear from us. Better Boundaries is sponsoring a mapping tool that is easy to use: https://betterboundaries.org/draw-your-map/
- Submit a district map to the Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee. The legislative committee is accepting fully drawn maps (you can’t just draw the district you’d like to see – you have to draw all of them). https://redistricting.utah.gov/maps/
- Show up at a public hearing to give input or critique maps that are being considered.
a. The Utah Independent Redistricting Commission will be at the Heber City Police Department on September 4.
b. The Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee will be in Park City on October 8 and 6pm.
When we draw the fair maps, our communities are represented by leaders who know us, who represent our needs, and fight for the resources that our children and families need in order to thrive.