Opinion: Now is the time for Utahns to voice opinions on political boundaries
People often complain about how the outcome of redistricting when it’s too late. Now is the time to speak up.
This op-ed was originally published in the Deseret News on Sep 23, 2021, 6:00pm MDT.
Every 10 years, after the census has been completed, our state has the unique opportunity to engage in the redistricting process. The Utah Constitution designates the authority to draw district lines with the Legislature, and we take that responsibility seriously.
As members of the bipartisan Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee, we are deep into a statewide public engagement effort of traveling around the state, conducting legislative hearings to gather public feedback on the maps that will be drawn. Thus far we have been to Grantsville, Salt Lake City, Rose Park, Ogden and Logan. And we have many more hearings in the weeks to come.
While we have had several residents present their own maps, and we appreciate their willingness to engage in the process, many of our meetings have been sparsely attended. Sometimes, just a few dozen residents have been in attendance.
It is incredible how many people have complained about outcomes of redistricting in the past, yet so few are engaging in the process. If you are a Utah resident who cares about what your state House, Senate, congressional representation or school board district looks like, now is the time to speak up.
Right now, there is no shortage of opportunities to weigh in. The Independent Redistricting Commission, which, by design, is operating separately but parallel to the legislative committee, gives Utahns additional opportunities to have your ideas heard.
By not getting engaged in the process now, those who complain later about the proposed district boundaries for congressional, legislative and school board members will have less credence once the Legislature has gathered all the suggested maps come November. Now is the time to join us — whether it’s while we are in your community or virtually from your home, we want to hear from you.
In meetings so far, we have found it tremendously helpful when constituents show up and share the history of their community, the challenges they face, and what they would like to see moving forward.
Here are recommendations for what you can do to engage in the redistricting process:
Attend one of our upcoming committee meetings in-person or virtually: The list of upcoming public meetings for the Legislative Redistricting Committee are found here: https://redistricting.utah.gov/town-halls/. While we would love to have you present a map you’ve drawn, we also are just looking for feedback and recommendations, you can share your ideas during public comment.
Take the time to draw and submit your own maps. The process for drawing and submitting a map using the map drawing software is here: https://redistricting.utah.gov/maps/. Once you have drawn up a map idea, submit it, so it can be viewed by the public, and join us at one of our meetings to present your map. (Make sure to tell us about it so that it really gets considered!)
Follow us on social media to stay updated, you can follow us on Facebook @UtahLegislativeRedistricingCommittee and on Twitter @RedistrictUtah.
Please make this a priority. Don’t put it off. Bring your family, invite a friend or neighbor to attend with you to see how the process works. This is a once-in-a-decade opportunity. Our state will be better served to have more people across the political spectrum engaging in the process. Join us.
Rep. Andrew Stoddard, D-Sandy, and Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-Herriman, are both members of the Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee