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Utah Senate passes vote on congressional map

Nov 10, 2021, 11:58 AM | Updated: 6:05 pm
Congressional map...
FILE: The senate vote to HB2004 during a special session at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.

SALT LAKE CITY — The controversial congressional redistricting map gets final approval from lawmakers despite heavy opposition from Senate Democrats.  Critics of the new map say it unfairly splits Salt Lake County, diluting their votes.

 

The map being discussed was passed by the House Tuesday night, and opponents say it was created by lawmakers behind closed doors and that they go against the will of the voters who supported the Independent Redistricting Committee’s efforts to create new congressional maps.

Senator Derek Kitchen tried to swap the map with one created by the IRC, but his motion was shot down.  He called the map that splits Salt Lake County into four districts “deplorable” and “inappropriate” because it dilutes the votes of those county residents.

Kitchen says, “These maps are shameless political gerrymandering, disrespectful of Utah voters and meant to silence any opposition.”

Before the Senate vote, Senator Luz Escamilla asked the chamber to “stop the madness” and vote against the bill.

“It is cracking communities, dividing communities that deserve a voice,” she says.  “You may not agree with their voices, and you may not agree with the way they look or what they think or what they believe, but, they’re also Utahns.”

Republicans question the IRC

However, some Republicans questioned the makeup of the IRC and whether or not their maps truly represented Utah fairly.  Senator John Johnson says no one from Washington County or any other part of southern Utah was appointed to the IRC.  He says the majority of committee members were based in Salt Lake City, who don’t understand the needs of rural Utah.

“The Independent Redistricting Committee certainly represented the voices of the place they came from,” Johnson says.  “It’s interesting to me that we have an Independent Redistricting Committee largely made up of people from the urban areas and they draw a map that puts a circle around Salt Lake.”

Governor Spencer Cox has previously said he’s unlikely to veto the new map.

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