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Group Advocating Redistricting Commission Meets Around State; Will Soon Begin Petition Process

Dennis Stock

A group aiming to reduce gerrymandering held a series of public hearings throughout Utah last week.

At the hearing, the Better Boundaries campaign discussed gerrymandering: the practice of forming district boundaries favoring an individual or political party.

These hearings are required by the state before Better Boundaries can begin collecting the 113,000 requisite signatures to place the measure on the ballot.

“So this is the seventh of seven meetings that we've done across the state. I would say attendance has varied but we've had a very enthusiastic response from people who've been at the meetings,” said Sterling Clifford, an advisor to Better Boundaries.

If the initiative makes it to the ballot in 2018 and is passed, it would establish a seven-member independent redistricting commission, with six members chosen by party leadership in the state legislature, and the chair appointed by the governor.

“The point is to take partisan information about people and pull it out of the process and have these boundaries drawn to serve the interests of communities and voters,” Clifford said. “This is an idea that a lot of people think has been overdue.”

Iris Fieldsen, who attended Saturday’s hearing, said Better Boundaries is a step in the right direction.

“Why I came out here was because I think that the minority in this state has been silenced. I think the Republicans have fixed it so they're guaranteed a win,” she said. “So, yes, I think this is a great start. Yes, I think it's going to improve ‘one person, one vote’ in the state of Utah. And that's why I came out.”

Better Boundaries will submit their official proposal to the Lieutenant Governor’s office on Tuesday and begin the petitioning process.