Larry Nielsen grew up with Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, so he looked forward to a chance to support his childhood friend this election season.
But when Nielsen and his wife got their absentee ballots, they were surprised to find that voting for their friend was not an option.
“Where’s Steve?” Nielsen said of their reaction to finding Brad Dee’s name on the ballot in District 11, rather than District 16.
“To me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I have nothing against Brad Dee, but why change something that is working,” Nielsen said.
Like Nielsen, a lot of voters may find some unfamiliar candidates in their state races this year. Redistricting has changed every voting district in the Beehive State, and in some cases, it has turned things upside down.
In Dee’s case, he picked up a precinct in Layton that Handy used to cover. Conversely, Handy’s new district still includes most of East Layton but now includes housing on Hill Air Force Base.
“It’s kind of a mixed thing,” Handy said of the new boundaries.
Handy said he will miss covering the precinct he lost in Layton, but welcomes the chance to officially cover part of Hill Air Force Base.
The casualties of the new districts go beyond confused voters.
Earlier this year, incumbent Rep. Brad Galvez, R-West Haven, found himself facing off with his colleague and friend Lee Perry, R-Perry, because the newly redrawn lines had combined the 2nd and 6th House districts to form the 29th District. Perry won a primary between the two.
Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, lost most of Harrisville as part of the redistricting process, and he laments the fact he will not represent that community as part of the redrawn 7th District. He said he was recently campaigning in an independent living center where some seniors were surprised to hear he was no longer going to be representing their area.
The redistricting also has forced changes at the federal level. With a fourth congressional district added to the state, the redrawn lines for the 2nd Congressional District, served by longtime Rep. Jim Matheson, were redrawn so severely that Matheson chose to run in the newly created 4th District.
Chris Stewart, R-Farmington, the GOP candidate in the congressional race, said he had geared his campaign to run against the incumbent, only to find himself in a race with Jay Seegmiller, D-Sandy.
The 2nd District now includes almost all of south Davis County but does not include any of Salt Lake County south of I-80, which puts Seegmiller’s residence in a different congressional district. He does own property in Southern Utah, however, which is in the newly redrawn district,
The strange change in boundaries did come with some irony for Rep. Stewart Barlow, R-Fruit Heights, whose district boundary now extends farther north along the eastern Davis County border to extend into Layton, his hometown.
Moving the line north also means Haven Barlow, longtime state senator and former senate president, can now potentially vote for his son for the first time this election season. Haven Barlow lives in Layton.