In the fall of 2018, Utahns had a handful of big decisions to make regarding future statewide policies. One ballot proposition was about allowing for the use of medical marijuana. It passed. Another was whether or not to expand medicaid. It also passed. Lastly, voters approved Proposition 4, which established an independent commission to recommend redistricting maps to the state Legislature when it came time.
It’s now time.
This week, the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission, appointed by and composed of Republicans, Democrats and Independents, approved its maps by a unanimous vote of 6-0 and will formally present them to the state Legislature for final adoption. The maps not only meet the criteria as established by the new law, but they also keep cities and counties largely intact — something all Utahns care about.
In addition, by all measurements from independent observers, these maps have been awarded “A” grades for their political neutrality.
Despite some rhetoric to the contrary, the independent commission has representatives from rural and urban Utah, reflecting proportionally the population of Utah. We applaud the bipartisan effort of the six commissioners, appointed by three Republicans and three Democrats, to adhere to the standards and criteria of the statute, and congratulate them on their unanimous approval of 12 maps that prioritize representing all Utahns. Their work benefited all Utahns and deserves our respect.
Within the next two weeks, we will have one final hearing from the Utah state legislative redistricting committee. It will either accept or reject the maps that have been presented by the independent commission, whose maps have gone through a very strict, transparent and fair process to ensure that the standards agreed upon by all parties are adopted.
Everything a majority of Utahns have asked for will be on full display that night. Will our Legislature accept the maps that have been drawn? Or will lawmakers come up with something entirely different?
Our earnest hope is to celebrate the legislative process and give praise to our lawmakers, including Sen. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton, and Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield. We also hope to congratulate the UIRC and the thousands of activists who have made this decennial a priority for the future of our state and country.
Most are in agreement that America is currently experiencing a period of political and social division, something we have seen before in our short history. On the battlefield of Gettysburg during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish.” Our fervent hope is that our leaders collectively produce and adopt maps that follow the standards set forth by voters in 2018.
Katie Wright is the executive director of Better Boundaries
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