Letter: Unlawful gerrymandering in Utah: Time to call out the elephant

Most Salt Lake County voters are either independents or Democrats (i.e., not Republicans). And most Salt Lake County residents are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). In short, a majority of Salt Lake County is non-Republican/non-LDS.

Following the 2010 Census, Utah’s predominantly Republican/LDS Legislature “cracked” Salt Lake County into three congressional districts, in each case “cracking” neighborhoods and neighbors, and pairing the county’s predominantly non-Republican/non-LDS voters with a greater number of their Republican/LDS “neighbors” in other counties (some hundreds of miles away). Not surprisingly, those three districts are currently represented by three Republican/LDS individuals, none of whom reside in Salt Lake County.

Following the 2020 Census, the 2021 Utah Legislature — being 78% Republican and 89% LDS — hit “repeat,” except this time it “cracked” Salt Lake County into four congressional districts while ignoring the recommendations of the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission (after neutering its mandate). As things stand, having literally been ‘drawn and quartered’ in this manner, predominantly non-Republican/non-LDS Salt Lake County will for the next five election cycles likely be represented by four nonresident Republican/LDS individuals. Mere coincidence? Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s gerrymandering the “Utah Way” ... disenfranchisement based on politics and religion.

So far, the Utah League of Women Voters and Mormon Women for Ethical Government have declined to make this Republican/LDS “elephant in the room” the centerpiece of their pending lawsuit challenging this clear disenfranchisement of Salt Lake County’s voters. Were they to do so, their chance of success would likely increase substantially for, unlike political affiliation, religious affiliation (like race) is a suspect classification under U.S. constitutional law and where, as here, used as a litmus test for redistricting, clear evidence of unlawful gerrymandering.

It’s time to call out the elephant.

Craig Coburn, Holladay

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