The recent United States Census means it’s time for redistricting in Utah. Congressional, state and school board maps are being redrawn to better reflect the changing population. It’s a process that Utah State political science professor Michael Petersen said is very important.
“It really determines who the voters are going to be that will select legislators,” Petersen said.
Redistricting is done by the legislature as well as the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission (UIRC). The UIRC was created by a voter initiative in 2018 and Rex Facer, chair of the commission, said they are not influenced by political data.
“By not looking at political data that takes us at least a step away to hopefully having maps that really are representing communities and the people that live in those communities,” Facer said. “As opposed to the politics of the communities.”
The commission said public feedback is key to their process.
“If we don't have input from the public, whether that be college students, or whether that be retired folks, we're gonna miss out on part of what makes each of these communities unique,” Facer said.
The UIRC has been holding hearings all across Utah during September and October. Petersen said public feedback and online comments received on the UIRC’s website are important in getting the legislature to accept the maps they recommend.
“I think if it were obvious that there was a strong public preference for a particular plan,” Peterson said. “That the legislature would be hesitant to ignore it.”