IN FOCUS Discussion: Census data and redistricting

In Focus
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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The U.S. Census Bureau released new data Thursday 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.

Dr. Rex Facer, chair of the Independent Redistricting Commission, and Sen. Scott Sandall of Tremonton, co-chair of the Legislative Redistricting Committee joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion.

In part one, they talked about what census numbers mean for the state, what contributed to Utah being the fastest-growing state in the nation, what they found most interesting about the newly released data, and how they’re going to use the information to help them in the process of redistricting.

In part two, they explained the role of the Independent Redistricting Commission, how the Legislative Redistricting Committee will use the recommendations to make the final redistricting decisions, the role public input in the process, and the timeline from this point on.

In part three, they discussed what they think is the most important factor to consider in the redistricting process, how they consider dividing the state for representation of the whole population (i.e. the idea of a donut versus a pie when it came to the 4th congressional seat ten years ago), and whether they expect many changes when diving up district for the state legislatures.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Dr. Facer and Sen. Sandall, 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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