“My vote doesn’t matter because I’m in Utah.” If you’ve said this, it’s time to shut up and vote. We’ve all said it at one time or another. But guess what? You’re wrong this time. One item on the ballot can change the future of our elections COMPLETELY.
We’re voting on three tax questions, when our legislature can call a special session, and three propositions. While they’re all incredibly important items, I want to take a moment to talk about Proposition 4. This is the redistricting measure that could reshape the map for all future congressional and state legislative districts –literally.
In Utah we’re so gerrymandered that every election feels like a foregone conclusion. Why? Because as it stands the state legislature draws the map. So when the majority of legislators are elected to office from a specific party -Republicans in our case- they continue to draw the map to their advantage in the legislative session following federal census results. Prop 4 would put an end to this abysmal practice because it proposes a seven-member independent redistricting commission.
It’s got teeth too. While appointments would be made by the governor and state legislative leaders there are conditions that help prevent politics from infecting the process. If any potential commissioner in the last four years has been a lobbyist, a candidate for office, has held political office or received compensation from a political party, a party committee, or a PAC connected to a political party –they’re disqualified from serving.
If Prop 4 passes, these commissioners would submit their redistricting plans to the state legislature and they would have to approve or reject their decision. While they might reject plans, they would no longer have the ability to draw it how they like –because you voted to take away their crayons. What I love best about it is the transparency it would enforce. If legislators say no to a map proposal they’d have to explain to the public why they rejected it and have submit their own proposal under the same standards the commission would be held to.
As it stands it’s a zero sum, winner take all situation where any barbarian hoard can go full Conan and divide and conquer the map. Salt Lake County for example is divided across three congressional districts –essentially splitting voters and diminishing their voices. Let me ask you this, do you think people who live in Iron County share the same issues as someone who lives in Salt Lake? Or how about someone in Blanding? More than likely not but guess what? They’re lumped into the same districts.
Salt Lake County is a victim of cracking and it’s the best way to dilute the power of a voting group. Instead of having 300,000 voters -just an example- in one district with similar issues, needs and political leanings you chop them up and stick them in three different districts so they can’t all vote together, leaving districts safe from an opposition candidate.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Last week I asked you to vote in the midterms. Ballots started arriving as early as Tuesday of this week and we have until November 6 to cast our final votes. More than likely you’ve opened your ballot, you’ve filled out what you know and you’re waiting to make a decision on the more complicated stuff -and that’s fine- but do not think twice about Proposition 4.
This is how we even the playing field for more competitive races and it’s how we shake the level of apathy that we’ve all felt during election season because one party has kept a stranglehold on the status quo.
Vote for Prop 4 and let’s break this never ending cycle.