Legislative Redistricting Committee releases maps to swift controversy

Nov 7, 2021, 12:21 AM | Updated: 5:14 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature is expected to vote next week on new redistricting maps for the next 10 years.

It’s a heated topic for both sides of the aisle, especially after a late submission by Republican stakeholders Friday night.

The maps impact district boundaries for the Utah Legislature, State School Board, and Congress — with the congressional district map taking the most heat.

Four different maps have been submitted for consideration by the Legislature, and according to a professor at Brigham Young University, there is a mathematical way to determine the possible bias of each map.

The maps gives legislators four options for Utah’s congressional district boundaries for the next 10 years.

Three of the maps were submitted by Utah’s Independent Redistricting Commission on Monday, Nov. 1.

The fourth was a last minute submission late Friday evening by the Republican-led Legislative Redistricting Committee.

Katie Wright, executive director of Better Boundaries Utah, is supporting the Commission’s submissions.

The group was behind 2018’s Proposition 4, which created an independent commission to oversee the redistricting process.

“We were incredibly impressed with the commission’s work. Everything they did was fully transparent,” said Wright. “Second, they were very, very attune to keeping incumbent and partisan data out of their process.”

When it comes to the Committee’s map, Wright has some reservations, including the committee’s consideration of incumbent’s addresses.

“I think it’s important to note those maps were drawn behind closed doors,” Wright said. “They have been very forthright that they are looking at incumbents and where incumbents live. We at Better Boundaries really don’t believe that redistricting is a job protection program for politicians.”

The Committee’s map would essentially split Salt Lake County into four congressional districts.

According to the Deseret News, Republican State Sen. Scott Sandall said their map will include rural and urban areas in every district.

“Rural Utah is the reason there is food, water and energy in urban areas of the state. We are one Utah, and believe both urban and rural interests should be represented in Washington, D.C. by the entire federal delegation,” he said.

Putting politics aside, Dr. Tyler Jarvis, a mathematics professor at BYU, put each of the four maps to the test.

Jarvis used a complex algorithm, that involves more than 100,000 possible blind maps and information from Utah’s previous elections, to predict various scenarios and voter preferences.

In setting the parameters for map boundaries, Jarvis said the blind maps don’t take political information into account, but consider the legislature’s desire to avoid county splits, when possible.

“We draw a large number of these maps, and after we’re done, we look at how each of the maps responds to each of ten most recent statewide elections. Some elections, the voters will vote more in favor of the Republicans, and sometimes, a stronger vote for the Democrats,” Jarvis said.

Based on that information, Jarvis said the model predicted one of the four Congressional Representatives elected will be a democrat every so often.

According to Jarvis, an unbiased map would reflect that possibility.

“If the maps being proposed behave like the large blind collection, then that would indicate that they were not unfairly favoring one party or another. Whereas, if they strongly favor one party much more than the blind maps do, then that shows something unusual going on,” he said.

According to Jarvis, all three of the Commission’s maps pass the test.

“We found that the Commission’s maps were fairly reasonable in the way they respond to different elections and differences in the elections,” he said.

However, Jarvis said the Committee’s map showed different results.

“The legislative committee’s map seems to be very strongly biased in favor of the Republican party, so it does not respond well to changes in voter preferences,” Jarvis said. “This map gives undue favor to the Republican party, which is something that was explicitly forbidden by the statute.”

In Jarvis’ opinion, if the legislature truly wants an unbiased map, they would give preference to the maps submitted by the Independent Redistricting Commission over the Legislative Redistricting Committee.

The legislature is expected to convene for a special session on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

emergency lights...

Mark Jones

Man taken into custody for alleged assaults at Cathedral of the Madeleine

A 31-year-old man was arrested Sunday after he allegedly began assaulting random people duing Sunday service at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.

6 hours ago

Taylorsville police said Sunday a 35-year-old man drowned in the swimming pool of an apartment comp...

Mark Jones

Man dies after drowning in swimming pool at Taylorsville apartment complex

Taylorsville police said a 35-year-old male drowned Sunday.

7 hours ago


Collin Leonard, KSL.com

Layton man charged with killing his father now charged with threatening puppy owner

A Layton man charged this month with brutally killing his father now faces an additional criminal charge after police say he threatened to kill a man selling puppies the day before his father was found dead.

8 hours ago

A paraglider was injured and taken to the hospital after crashing in Washington County on Sunday, M...

Mary Culbertson

Paraglider injured after crashing in Washington County

A paraglider was injured after crashing near Blue Springs Reservoir in Washington County.

12 hours ago

FILE - Police lights (Ray Boone, KSL TV)...

Mary Culbertson

Man shot, killed in Salt Lake City homicide

One man is dead after he was shot in a Glendale neighborhood. Police are investigating the shooting as a homicide.

15 hours ago

A large fire at a historic church building in downtown Salt Lake required a three-alarm response fr...

Mary Culbertson, Brianna Chavez and Shelby Lofton

Historic church burns in downtown Salt Lake City

A large fire at a historic church building, the Wells Ward meetinghouse, caused a four-alarm response from Salt Lake Fire Department.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Legislative Redistricting Committee releases maps to swift controversy