What is redistricting?Mar 29, 2022 09:43PM ● By Erin Dixon
By Erin Dixon | [email protected]
Every 10 years the United States does a census, counting the number of people in the country and where they live.
Changes in how many people live in a single area will change how effective a resident’s vote is. After every census voting area lines are redrawn.
Each city is divided into districts and each district votes for a representative.
West Jordan GIS Administrator Clint Hutchings explained to the West Jordan City Council what qualifies as a balanced division between districts.
“Independent redistricting commission statute requires state legislative districts to have a total population deviation of less than 10%,” Hutchings said.
This means that the difference between population numbers cannot be greater than 10%.
Many current boundaries are now outside that guideline and must be redrawn. Ideally, the boundaries are drawn as straight as possible, without small portions pushing into or out of an area. It is also preferable to have lines drawn along landmarks or major highways. Lines cannot be drawn based on racial or political characteristics.
There are many places in the Salt Lake Valley that are growing rapidly and are projected to continue growing for the next 10 years before the 2030 census. However, the lines must be drawn based on current numbers, not the number that may be living in that area.
City staff typically spearheads the new drawings, but the city council has the final vote. Some cities will also ask for public comment through open houses or during public meetings.
“The city council has the authority to change district lines,” Midvale City Communications Director Laura Magness said.
Lines must be finalized by May 19, 2022. The boundaries take effect during the next election for district seats, current councilmembers will stay the same.