This article is co-authored by Ashley Nash and Kate Hickman.
Another decade has passed, and the time has come to redistribute ridings in Utah. For most UVU students, this will be the first time that a redistribution will take place when they are old enough to vote. Now is the time for UVU students to get involved in their communities and make a change.
Redistribution is when all of the state’s district boundaries are redrawn to meet the needs of the community. After collecting US Census data every 10 years, the redistribution process begins. This includes four districts: Congressional, Legislative, House of Representatives, and school boards districts, according to the Utah Redistricting website.
The Utah Redistribution process is in the hands of the Utah State Legislature and the Utah Independent Redistribution Commission (UIRC). This year is different because of UIRC, Utah’s newly elected independent redistribution board. It is an independent committee of seven people who gather feedback from the community regarding where the new district boundaries should be drawn. 2021 will be the first year that the UIRC has helped redistribution, and their role is integral: bypassing gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering is the process of drawing district boundaries in favor of a specific political party or individual. BallotPedia states that Gerrymandering takes place when a redistribution occurs that violates federal or state laws. It has been used with the aid of racism, classism and other discriminatory practices, and generally employs one of two methods: “crack” and “wrap”. “Cracking” is a method of reducing the voting potential of an opposing party by distributing voters across many districts, while “packing” concentrates voters “in a single district despite living in different regions. state ”to prevent them from influencing other districts, as reported on PopulationEducation.org.
They go on to provide historical examples of gerrymandering in the United States, including the 12th District of North Carolina, which has a long history as a racial district. District lines have been redrawn five times since 1993, the last sketch being in February 2016 “after a federal court ruled the lines were drawn to focus black voters and limit their influence,” as reported by The Guardian .
Sadly, this is just one of many examples of gerrymandering, which has taken place in countries around the world. To combat this practice, in 2018 Proposition 4 was passed in Utah, assigning an independent committee (UIRC) to help with the redistribution.
The UIRC will draw up maps based on public comments and submit these maps to the legislature. The legislature then redraws the districts of the state based on input from the UIRC, the public, and decisions made in the legislature. The legislator takes into account the needs of the community when drawing these borders, which is why citizens are encouraged to get involved in the redistribution process.
The public hearing for Utah County will be held in Orem, in the UVU Grand Ballroom, on September 13 at 6 p.m. ET. of the audience. Better Boundaries of Utah provides a template on their website where people can draw their own district map.