UTAH (ABC4) – After their final submission and approval, the Utah 2021 Legislative redistricting will shape the voting process for the first time in Utah’s 2022 midterm elections.
Legislative redistricting is done every ten years using U.S. Census data and can have a variety of impacts on local politics including the number of U.S. House representatives a state sends to Congress, which party has an advantage in elections for state senators, and the likelihood of challengers’ success for state legislative seats. Both a COVID-delayed U.S. Census and evenly split U.S. Congress have made 2021 redistricting more notable than usual.
Utah’s final legislative map was created by the newly created 20-member Legislative Redistricting Committee, designed to create bipartisan cooperation on keeping Utah elections as fair and representative as possible. The Committee included 15 Republican legislators and five Democratic legislators, who can be found here.
While Utah’s number of national house representatives did not change, the redistricting can still have an impact on who is elected in this year’s midterms as Utah’s state and national legislators.
The Princeton Gerrymandering Project provides nationwide, independent reviews of each state’s redistricting maps, including Utah. Utah’s map received a generally positive overall rating of a B, and also received a B rating in the category of “partisan fairness.” According to the Princeton Gerrymandering Project’s analysis, a B rating puts Utah above the national average for fairness, while still acknowledging some partisan bias in the redistricting map. Specifically, the analysts responsible for the evaluation indicate that the redistricting maps advantage incumbent legislators in elections as opposed to challengers.
While perhaps less crucial of a metric, Utah received an F grade for “competitiveness” by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, meaning that Utah’s electoral districts are drawn in a way that does not create very much inter-partisan competition in elections. In fewer words, districts that historically have been represented by legislators of one party are likely to continue to be represented by the same party.
What all this means for Utah’s upcoming 2022 midterm elections is that while voters should expect an overall fair vote as far as their individual district’s representatives at the state and national level, races that are not likely to result in a change in party control — such as the vote on Utah Senator Mike Lee’s seat — will be determined by party primaries this summer. These primaries are held by a statewide run and are not significantly influenced by legislative redistricting.