Guest Editorial | ParkRecord.com

Guest Editorial

Steve Lewis, Park City

The results produced by the current system of redrawing voting-district boundaries in Utah are an abominable distortion of representative democracy. Following the 2000 Census a Republican-dominated committee of our elected representatives brutally distorted the boundaries of our state and national representative districts. No other purpose was served but to keep Utah a one-party (Republican) state indefinitely. Lines were drawn to force eight elected Democrats to run for reelection against each other in just four newly created districts. Park City and several other Democratic-leaning towns were split in half; Tooele was split four ways to prevent election of Democrats. In consequence, those communities lost any effective local voice in our state legislature.

In this process our representatives showed no regard for the interests of the people they are elected to represent, and absolutely no respect for the principles the system they supposedly cherish. They should be ashamed, but clearly they are not. As noted, Utah has received national recognition for being one of the most shamelessly "gerrymandered" states in the nation.

If we do nothing now, in 2011 our legislators will once again choose their voters, crippling further our ability to chose our representatives, and hence the effectiveness of our government.

It is not coincidental that, as one party has risen to total dominance in Utah over the last several decades, Utah voter involvement, as measured by turnout in national elections, has dropped from being among the highest in the nation in the 1960s to among the nation’s lowest in the last election. We are feeling disenfranchised and becoming disinterested in a system that increasingly ignores a more moderate majority of Utahns (who have found a voice in immensely popular Governor Huntsman) and is deliberately manipulated to perpetuate the powerful right wing rather than empowering the people.

The Fair Boundaries Petition is an important step toward correcting a serious flaw in our system. It is a message that must be sent to our legislators. It’s a step we must take now.

The Fair Boundaries Petition "respectfully demands" that a new law establishing redistricting standards be submitted to Utah voters in 2010. Among other provisions, the law would establish an independent restricting commission composed of Utah citizens and would require the legislature to prepare a redistricting plan in compliance with mandatory anti-gerrymandering standards. For more information go to http://www.fairboundaries.org.