WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Utah Legislature approved a new congressional map, raising complaints that the Legislature ignored the input of an independent commission. The map now heads to the desk of Gov. Spencer Cox (R), who indicated at a town hall that although he understands “the frustration people are feeling right now,” he is likely to sign it into law.
In 2018, Utah voters approved Proposition 4, a ballot initiative that created an independent redistricting commission composed of citizens. However, the commission is purely advisory and the Legislature can choose to approve or reject the maps it creates. In October, the commission presented several options for new congressional districts, all of which would create one Democratic-leaning district centered around Salt Lake City (currently, all four of Utah’s congressional districts are represented by Republicans). Yet, the Utah House and Senate ultimately approved a map drawn by the GOP-controlled Legislative Redistricting Committee that creates four safe Republican districts by splitting Salt Lake County among all four of the districts.
Eric Holder, chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, criticized the result: “An overwhelming number of Utah voters urged the legislature to pass any one of the commission-drawn maps, which were the product of a transparent process that prioritized fairness and competitiveness. Instead of listening to the public, Republican legislators hypocritically chose maps that negatively impact the state’s urban communities in order to maintain their political power.” Additionally, Better Boundaries, the group that led the campaign for Proposition 4, indicated in a statement that they were “exploring legal and legislative solutions.”