Will Utah have an independent redistricting commission? Updated vote tally shows Prop 4 narrowly losing, with more counting ahead.
(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Chad Smith, of West Valley City, looks at redistricting maps on Sept. 27, 2011.
A ballot proposition to create an independent redistricting commission saw its hopes dim Tuesday as counties throughout the state updated their vote totals. It is now down 922 votes, with 50.05 percent against and 49.95 percent in favor.
Throughout the day, the new totals, which included an infusion from conservative Utah County, bounced up and down for Proposition 4. At one point the measure, billed as an anti-gerrymandering proposal, was up by 32 out of more than 900,000 ballots counted.
The proposition would call for
an independent commission to redraw the state’s political boundaries in its once-per-decade redistricting process. The Legislature would have the option of rejecting the commission’s proposed map but could face public criticism for doing so.
Vote totals have been updated several times since Election Day as officials continue to tabulate ballots, and the adjustments will continue in coming days. Before Tuesday, the redistricting measure was ahead by 4,619 votes.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune "It's fun...I enjoy it," said Salt Lake County elections official Diane McGee of the 8-hours a day of inspecting ballots at the Salt Lake County building, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.
But state Sen. Ralph Okerlund, a vocal opponent of Prop 4, said the initiative’s fate is sealed already.
“It’s going to go right down to the wire to see who wins. But I think, as close as it is, it’s not going to matter a heck of a lot,” Okerlund, R-Monroe, said.
That’s because — without a clear mandate from voters — lawmakers would feel little pressure to abide by the map recommendations of the independent redistricting commission, he explained.
Okerlund and other state Republicans have argued against Prop 4 by noting that the state Constitution charges the Legislature with drawing new voting districts.
Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund listens to debate in the Senate Chamber on HCR11, a bill that would urge the President to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument, during debate in the Senate Chamber in Salt Lake City, Friday February 3, 2017.
The measure was championed by the bipartisan group Better Boundaries, which has said politicians shouldn’t be in charge of designing their own districts. Better Boundaries representatives weren’t immediately available to comment Tuesday afternoon.