Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Overwhelming Congressional Redistricting

story and video by Michael Orton
licensed through ImageProviders
©2011 – All Rights Reserved


More than a million dollars and several weeks worth of deliberation were left behind when Utah's Republicans decided to allow their state leadership to finalize Utah's congressional redistricting. The new census tracts were analyzed, according to House redistricting committee chairman Ken Sumsion (R-56) and Salt Lake County, traditionally democratic, was divided into three of the four new congressional districts. The state's democrats would have preferred to keep that county intact within a larger federal district but the majority diluted or eliminated the Democrats' influence on the process entirely. VIDEO:

Utah House Representative JOEL BRISCOE (D-25) 
video and interview by MICHAEL ORTON for ImageProviders ©2011– All Rights Reserved

House Representative Joel Briscoe (D-25) has a state district that presently includes Salt Lake and Summit counties, where many of the state's democratic and most affluent voters reside. During a break during Monday night's deliberations before the final congressional map was adopted, Briscoe said, "You'd be hard-pressed to say that what's gone on the past two weeks has been good [public policymaking] process on drawing congressional maps." His democratic colleagues denounced the last-minute republican steamrolling as a way to ensure that many Utah voters would not have any influence or representation in congress at all. Because diversity is not valued in Utah, the reddest state just got even more red.

It was generally accepted and reported that the Republican caucus substituted a new, last-minute definition on a map that came from state Republican party headquarters after all of the public deliberations and input had been shoved aside. The Utah Republican caucus has traditionally been closed to both the media and the public, prompting many to wonder why and if the public process had been only lip service. The Utah democrats traditionally and always have opened their caucus proceedings and plan to continue to do so, said minority House leader David Litvack (D-26). When the redistricting work was finished close to 11pm on Monday night, many state democrats left Arsenal Hill demoralized and disillusioned while more than one Republican thought that they might have a chance to go to a new seat in Washington, and to represent a state that some say is overwhelmingly conservative by brute force.

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