You may be hearing about redistricting from a variety of sources — from President Obama to former Governor Schwarzenegger. What you may not know is that people are working hard on this issue right here in Utah.
Right now, legislative districts in Utah are drawn by the legislature itself. Politicians have an interest in drawing districts that benefit them and their political party. Allowing voters to pick their legislators, rather than letting legislators pick their voters, is essential to good governance and fair representation for all citizens.
What is happening in Utah
Better Boundaries is a bi-partisan campaign, working to run a ballot initiative in the 2018 election to put redistricting in the hands of an independent commission. This initiative is based on the fact that 67% of Utahns prefer an independent redistricting commission over allowing legislators to pick their own voters. You can sign up to volunteer or otherwise support this effort.
Fair Redistricting Caucus of Utah and Utah Redistricting 2021 are other interrelated organizations that are focused on supporting the ballot initiative and carefully monitoring court cases and other developments nationally to see how they might impact Utah. League of Women Voters Utah has a webpage devoted to redistricting issues in Utah and the national organization offers this action toolkit. Check out their websites!
Finally, you may have heard that Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes signed on to an Amicus Brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the legislature’s position in drawing legislative districts in the Whitford v. Gill case. In this case, the lower court found that Wisconsin’s legislature was engaged in unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering, drawing districts with the intent and effect of diluting Democratic voters.
The Wisconsin case has made its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Attorney General Reyes has signed on with other states in support of the Wisconsin legislature and their drawing of districts.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Volunteer or otherwise support the Better Boundaries ballot initiative by clicking here. The first volunteer training and kickoff event will be September 23 in Salt Lake City. Sign up here.
- Educate yourself about redistricting and the groups that are working on this in Utah (including Better Boundaries, Fair Redistricting Caucus of Utah, Utah Redistricting 2021, League of Women Voters Utah) and nationally (including the Brennan Center, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, League of Women Voters and others).
- Contact Attorney General Sean Reyes to express your disappointment with his decision to support a system that leaves redistricting in the hands of the self-interested legislature. Call at 1-800-244-4636 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Write a letter to the editor to make sure your voice is heard on this important issue. Check out our tips on How to Write an Effective Letter to the Editor.