Recently a New York Court ruled that Democrats who gerrymandered legislative maps were ignoring the will of voters and ordered new maps be drawn by impartial experts.
Earlier this year, the League of Women Voters Utah, Mormon Women for Ethical Government and private citizens impacted by gerrymandering filed a lawsuit in Utah with a similar argument. The complaint outlines how the Utah Legislature’s repeal of Prop 4 violated the Utah Constitution and that the Legislature’s congressional map violates numerous provisions of Utah’s Constitution because it is an extreme partisan gerrymander.
The partisan gerrymandered congressional map violates Utahn’s protected constitutional rights to free and fair elections, equal protection under the law, the freedom of association and speech and the right to vote.
Speaking as a representative for Better Boundaries, it was clear to us that members of the Utah Legislature acted in their own self-interest when they completely dismissed the Independent Redistricting Commission maps and drew their own electoral maps. Those actions not only overruled the will of Utah voters, but also violated their legal obligations.
Utahns have fought very hard to have their constitutionally protected right to reform their government honored. We stand united with all Utahns who want transparency and accountability from their elected officials and are proud to financially support the case.
But the New York case tells us something else. Gerrymandering is a bipartisan tactic used by those in power to remain in power. This issue is not about being a Republican or a Democrat, rather it’s about who should retain power and how they wield it.
Gerrymandering allows politicians to choose which voters to listen to and which to ignore. No matter our background, zip code or political party, voters deserve to pick their leaders. Politicians should not get to pick their voters.
I would guess many in the state, including those who hold power, feel this issue has come and gone— but that would be a mistake. The highest court in New York just ruled in favor of the people and for a fair process. We will be watching with much interest to see how Utah responds.
Katie Wright is the executive director of Better Boundaries.