LOCAL NEWS

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

Top Stories

Local News

(Unified Police Department Millcreek Precinct)...
Madison Swenson

Police searching for man missing from Millcreek area

Authorities are asking for the public's help in locating a 43-year-old man who has been missing from the Millcreek area of Salt Lake County since Thursday afternoon.
19 hours ago
...
Ayanna Likens

Utah Treasure Hunts launch another $20,000 race

The race is on – Utah Treasure Hunts launched another quest with $20,000 up for grabs.
19 hours ago
...
Ladd Egan

Amid increased need and dwindling supplies, Tabitha’s Way holds food drive on Saturday

Tabitha’s Way food pantry says donations are down at the same time that demand for food assistance has gone up.
19 hours ago
Police located a car involved in an American Fork, Utah parking lot shooting. A child in the back s...
Larry D. Curtis

BREAKING: Man wanted in AF AMBER Alert now in police custody

A 29-year-old man who was shot at by police and eluded law enforcement for several days, has now been booked into the Utah County Jail.
19 hours ago
(Aubrey Shafer/KSL TV)...
Madison Swenson

One critical, two serious after auto-pedestrian crash in Salt Lake City

The public has been asked to avoid 400 West in Salt Lake City due to a "critical injury" crash. 
19 hours ago
(Matt Rascon/KSL TV)...
Matt Rascon

Leaders tout new project as most sustainable, walkable community in Utah

A new FrontRunner station opened in Vineyard Friday, and it's part of a new project that state and local officials say is set to become the most sustainable and walkable community in Utah.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Legislative Redistricting Committee releases maps to swift controversy