In 2018 voters passed Proposition 4, the Better Boundaries Initiative, which established an Independent Redistricting Commission. There are now reports that the legislature wants to make changes, or even repeal, what voters passed in 2018, despite recent polling that shows that 63% of voters don’t want the legislature to change Proposition 4 at all.
What is Prop 4?
Every ten years after the census is conducted and new population statistics are available, states undertake the process of redistricting. In essence, this is a reallocation of the population into the different electoral districts in the state. Traditionally it was the job of the legislature to draw the districts for Utah’s four congressional districts, 29 state senate districts, and 45 state house districts. This let the legislators themselves choose their voters and in the past have drawn these districts to give the party in power more sway. Proposition 4 established an independent commission to make this process less partisan, and also set standards for how districts should be drawn. For example there is an emphasis on keeping cities and counties together, and also creating districts that are geographically compact and contiguous, where in the past district lines frequently divide cities and counties. Read the full Act and its requirements here.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Write a letter to the editor of your local paper asking the legislature not to repeal or change Proposition 4, the Independent Redistricting Commission.
Possible Talking Points:
- It’s good governance, not a partisan issue. Curtailing the practice of gerrymandering will benefit both parties.
- Voters should choose their representatives; legislators shouldn’t get to choose their voters.
- Former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham wrote an Op-Ed in support of Proposition 4 in 2018 in which she says she believes it to be constitutional. “First, the Constitution provides that “all political power is inherent in the people.” The Utah Supreme Court has described the people’s power to legislate by initiative as “coequal, coextensive” and of “equal dignity” with that of the Legislature. A vote for Proposition 4 is an exercise of that power.”
- Keeping the initiative intact will provide transparency to the redistricting process. It requires the Commission to conduct public meetings throughout the state and conduct all of its meetings and deliberations in public view.
- Proposition 4 set common-sense standards for keeping cities, counties, and communities that should be preserved.
- A majority of Utah voters approved Proposition 4 at the ballot box in 2018, and a recent poll shows that 63% of voters don’t want the legislature to change Proposition 4 at all.
- FAQs from Better Boundaries, the group that sponsored the initiative
- Try your hand at drawing the lines at https://districtr.org/https://districtr.org/, open-source software for redistricting.
- Learn more about redistricting the fun way, with a video game! If you’re on a desktop computer, try this game, and if you are on a mobile device, download this game from the app store.