This past Friday, Alliance for a Better Utah hosted a panel discussion at the Sandy Senior Center about redistricting. Our founder and board chair, Josh Kanter, facilitated the discussion with Rep. Chavez-Houck (D) and Quang Dang of Represent Me Utah. The subject of redistricting may seem a little dry at first glance, but the subject deserves attention. Many, in Salt Lake County especially, feel that their vote doesn’t matter. The stem of that problem is the gerrymandering rampant in our state. The core of Salt Lake County is predominantly liberal, yet the house seats each year don’t reflect that. Here’s why.
Utah’s districting map looks like a pizza. Jagged slices of land radiate from Salt Lake City, covering the whole state. These lines are drawn based on how many people are living in each area and other rules, but these lines can be manipulated by a political party; manipulated based on information. The amount of information about each of us online is almost endless. Your political leanings, magazine subscriptions, etc. are common knowledge now. Legislatures use this information to their advantage while drawing district lines. The gerrymandering occurring in Utah is based on the diluting of the Democrat-heavy Salt Lake with more conservative rural areas. The result is that a Democratic vote will be so heavily outnumbered by Republican votes that a Republican candidate experiences a resounding victory.
Even those who are Republican should find this troubling. Gerrymandering results in a less balanced government, favoring one party with unfair power. Utahns are being cheated their vote. This isn’t just an issue in our state either. Nationally, there are the lowest number of Democratic controlled houses right now since the Civil War.
I found the reality a little dismal. The only way to ensure a fair districting system is to demand it from your representatives. The senior center today was packed with elders who hope to make a difference. I hope there are others out there who care and are willing to try to change this ridiculous system.
The idea that my vote doesn’t matter has always bothered me. I decided to learn about it and get involved. Please do the same.
The next redistricting isn’t until 2021; let’s be prepared to make our vote count.
If you want to see the history of our congressional districts, click here.
Watch the video below or on our Facebook page:
(Apologies for the tech difficulties at the beginning!)