Monday, April 20, 2009

Redistricting Rumble: Governor Stands Down, Voters Step Up

Okay, just because Governor Huntsman acquiesced to House Speaker, Dave Clark, by "standing down" on ethics and redistricting, maybe all is not lost. Take a look at this article in today's Salt Lake Tribune covering the efforts of a new coalition formed to breathe life into an independent redistricting commission.

The Fair Boundaries Coalition is calling for an independent redistricting commission, and wants it put to a public vote in 2010.

The Utah Constitution does identify redistricting as a responsibiltiy of the Legislative branch, but there are broad concerns that lawmakers create districts to benefit themselves (and perhaps close-knit groups of lawmakers with similar agendas) rather than creating districts based on population centers and shared interests that benefit voters and that speaks to a more democratic process. Currently, redistricting is a strong and blatantly-wielded power tool that has already affected the political process.

Because citizen initiatives cannot be used to ammend the Utah Constitution, the independent commission is proposed as an advisory role, leaving lawmakers with the final say in redistricting. While there may be some risk that the commission would end up offering only symbolic oversight, it might also serve as a strong first step toward balancing the redistricting scale.

The Fair Boundaries Coalition brings together a diverse, non-partisan group of Democratic, Republican, Third-Party, and Independent members. They need at least 94,000 voter signatures by April 15th, 2010 to secure a place on the ballot. Democracy in action. Step up, voters!