IN FOCUS: Citizen involvement in redistricting

In Focus
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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The U.S. Census Bureau released new data last week that states will use to redraw districts, called “redistricting,” around the country.

The data came from the survey conducted every ten years to count everyone who lives in the country. Redistricting is the process of drawing new boundaries to help determine the ideal size of Utah’s Congressional, State Senate, State House of Representatives, and State Board of Education districts.

The process of redistricting is necessary because different regions of the state grow at significantly different rates. According to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, the average growth in Utah is 18.1 percent. Utah County grew at an estimated 29.3 percent, where Salt Lake City grew 12.9 percent. If these estimates are accurate, Salt Lake County will lose seats whereas Utah County will gain seats.

This is a process that happens every decade and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, states are under an extremely compressed timeline compared to past years. The U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures the responsibility of determining how to elect people to fill congressional seats and other state-level officers, no later than the first general session after it receives the official resident population data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

With the new information, now the redistricting work begins through research, feedback, and recommendations made by the public, the Independent Redistricting Commission, and Legislative Redistricting Committee. Last week, the leader of the groups tasked with the process joined ABC4 News on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion. On Tuesday, leaders of the groups who are watching the redistricting process shared what they will be looking for and how they are working to get Utahns involved in the process.

The guests of Tuesday’s panel discussion were Laura Lewis Eyi, Utah legislative committee member of Mormon Women for Ethical Government; TJ Ellerbeck, executive director of the Rural Utah Project; and Katie Matheson, deputy director of Alliance for a Better Utah. They also discussed why redistricting is important to their individual organizations, what they think about process on a national level, and how they think the map for the 4th congressional district should be divided.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Eyi, Ellerbeck, and Matheson, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie_Nguyen
Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.

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