Burningham: redistricting committee ‘invites abuse of power’

Utah lawmakers are being appointed to a committee that will start meeting soon to draw new election districts. The 19 lawmakers appointed this week to the Utah Re-Districting Committee includes 14 Republicans and five Democrats. The committee will draw new boundaries for congressional, legislative and state school board districts based on 2010 Census numbers. Kim Burningham, chairman of Utahns for Ethical Government, says it is true the legislature is responsible for re-districting but he says legislators should choose a totally independent re-districting committee so there will be little or no impartiality. “But to have the legislators themselves drawing the boundaries of their own districts just invites abuse of power and a kind of arrogance that is troubling,” Burningham claims. “It’s so easy for someone to rationalize, ‘if you just drew the line 10 miles this way, that would include all those people who really like me and would vote for me and don’t include that section.’ “Legislators should not be included in those decisions.” Birmingham says many states already have independent commissions in charge of drawing new election district boundaries. But, he says, so far Utah lawmakers have refused to give that responsibility to an independent group.

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