Record editorial: Summit County, like rest of Utah, deserved better in redistricting
Summit County residents — and their fellow Utahns across the state — have every right to be furious.
Three years ago, Utah voters made clear their desire to bring transparency and fairness to the once-a-decade redistricting process by approving a statewide ballot measure to create an independent commission to draw political boundaries. Now, Republican state lawmakers have thumbed their noses — or performed a gesture with a different digit — at their constituents.
First, they ignored the will of voters by passing their own, watered-down legislation in 2020 to replace the redistricting measure residents supported at the polls. And now they’ve rejected the voice of Utahns entirely.
Lawmakers recently finalized the statewide political boundaries that will be in place for the next 10 years, opting to ignore entirely the maps drawn by the independent commission in favor of their own. The commission’s maps were the result of an open and thorough monthslong process that included numerous opportunities for Utahns to provide input. While not perfect, the boundaries would have split Utah’s congressional, legislative and state school board districts sensibly, in a way that did not provide undue advantages to the state’s ruling party.
Republicans at the Statehouse, unsurprisingly, thought that imprudent, approving their preferred maps over the objections of Democrats and vocal opposition from members of the public who rightly accused them of gerrymandering.
The result is as bad as many Utahns feared when they backed the effort to create the independent commission in the hope that they could prevent Republicans from tilting the maps in their favor once again.
Unfortunately, Summit County is one of the places that will bear the brunt of the misdeed. For the first time in recent memory — and possibly ever — the county will be split into two congressional districts, diluting our voting power as one of the few reliably Democratic blocs in the state. The legislative boundaries aren’t much better, carving the county into four Utah House districts and two Senate districts. That all but assures the bulk of the left-leaning Park City area will continue to be represented by Republicans.
Perhaps the gerrymandered boundaries were inevitable given that the Utah Constitution gives the Legislature the power to approve the state’s political maps. But Utahns, armed with the independent commission that was hard-won at the polls, hoped this time would be different.
Summit County residents, like others throughout the state, deserved better. Instead, we’ll suffer the consequences of lawmakers once again putting their own desires over the will of the people they serve.
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