Letter: Pass the Freedom to Vote Act
Our democracy is at risk. The legislators’ rejection of the maps drawn by the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission (UIRC) left one to wonder whether they felt any obligation to honor the will of their constituents. The Better Boundaries initiative was the work of hundreds of volunteers who gathered thousands of signatures–enough to put it on the ballot. Thousands more voted to make it law, at which point our legislators threatened to overturn it. The UIRC members appointed under the law worked diligently in an open and transparent way to elicit extensive citizen input. The result was three sets of maps that met Better Boundary criteria: compact and contiguous districts drawn to honor communities of interest and natural/geopolitical boundaries while ignoring partisan considerations.
In contrast, the Legislative Redistricting Committee (LRC) gave the public just 72 hours to comment on its clearly partisan maps–one House District boundary put the incumbent’s challenger outside of that district by a few hundred yards. Committee members ignored the fact that the ‘pizza’ approach to Congressional Districts was a driving force behind the Better Boundaries initiative and once again chose to marry pieces of Salt Lake County with vast rural areas. Thus, neither urban nor rural Utahns will have representation that speaks clearly to the distinct needs of these two very different constituencies. Thus, the IRC and legislators chose to represent land over people while also refusing to give a voice to the roughly 30% of Utah voters who belong to the minority party.
These maps will make it harder to hold our representatives accountable. The only remedy to this fiasco is passage of the Freedom to Vote Act, as it mandates independent commissions and other much needed reforms. Urge Utah’s Congressional delegation to support its passage.
The Women’s Democratic Club