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In-Depth: Two redistricting groups with very different styles

Posted at 5:44 PM, Sep 30, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — The committee and the commission.

Each an official state entity.

Each traveling from town to town with their staff, making PowerPoint presentations, holding town halls to talk about drawing new districts for Congress, the state legislature, and the state school board.

Whether or not it sounds redundant, it doesn’t look redundant because the Legislative Redistricting Committee and the Independent Redistricting Commission approach their town halls very differently.

It may be a simple matter of math.

The committee, with 20 members, might get bogged down if they decided to talk freely with each other and members of the public at each stop.

That’s not a problem for the commission, whose seven members engage most members of the public who stand at the podium and many members of the public who start talking from their seats.

The politics of each group are also quite different.

The commissioners don’t hold elected office, though three of them have in the past. They are political appointees without personal political positions on the line.

The committee members are sitting State Senators and Representatives who will face voters in the districts they draw and will work with legislators from the districts they draw.

Another big difference: power. The Legislators have all of it.

When voters approved Proposition 4 in 2018, the new law said the legislature would have to vote on the commission’s proposals. That law was amended by the legislature, so now the Redistricting Committee must hold a public hearing in which the commission presents their maps.

After that they can take them or leave them.