(KCPW News) Utah lawmakers who have been appointed to re-draw the state’s legislative and congressional boundaries adopted a set of redistricting principles this morning, making very few changes to the ones that were used in 2001. The committee discussed a proposal to consider creating districts represented by multiple lawmakers, but it was rejected, to the disappointment of Democratic Representative Brian King of Salt Lake City.
“The thing that troubles me is voting patterns in the past show that you consistently have around 40 percent of the state voting for Democrats, and yet in the House and the Senate, we have under 25 percent of the members of both those chambers who are Democrats,” he told KCPW. “That tells me that there is a problem.”
Such a plan could have led to Democrats winning seats in otherwise Republican-dominated parts of the state, like Utah County, or Republicans winning seats in heavily Democratic Salt Lake City.
Sue Connor with Represent Me Utah said after the meeting that her citizen group remains concerned about the process being fair and honest.
“We’re concerned because two of the members have been quoted in just the last couple of weeks in the media as saying that gerrymandering did not occur in 2001, and it’s not occurring now, and in fact it’s virtually impossible to gerrymander anymore. And I think this is really misleading to the public,” said Connor.
The committee also declined to adopt a principle that communities shouldn’t be split up among multiple districts when it’s possible to avoid it. The final legislative and congressional boundaries will be adopted in a special session of the Legislature this fall.
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