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Idaho redistricting commission releases legislative map

October 29, 2021 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A six-person commission redrawing Idaho’s 35 legislative districts from which voters will select the state’s 105 lawmakers over the next 10 years has released a new map for public comment.

The bipartisan Idaho Commission for Reapportionment released the map late Thursday. The commission is meeting again on Wednesday to consider public comments and possibly make changes. A vote on whether to approve the map is tentatively set for Nov. 10.

The commission, answerable only to the courts, is tasked with redrawing the districts based on 2020 census numbers. Idaho has been one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. Commissioners have to examine where that growth occurred and create districts roughly equal in population of about 52,000.

“This was a hard project,” commission co-chairman Bart Davis said. “I certainly hope I’ve gained a few friends around the table in this process, because I sure lost a lot in doing it.”

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At least two-thirds of the commissioners must approve a redistricting map. Besides the legislative district map, the commission is also working on a congressional district map. A new congressional map for public comment is expected out next week.

The commission is aiming to vote on approving both maps before Nov. 15 when the Legislature plans to convene at the Statehouse in a continuation of the 2021 session.

The commission is required to come up with 35 districts that have not more than a 10% population variance. The map released late Thursday does that with a variance of under just 6%.

The commission is also tasked with, as much as possible, not dividing counties into multiple districts. The map made public Thursday splits only eight of Idaho’s 44 counties.

The map “I think is really paying attention to one person, one vote,” Davis said. “And it respects communities of interest and counties in a remarkable way, and I hope our state values our commitment to that target.”

The new legislative districts will be used for elections next year, including Republican and Democratic primaries on May 17, and then the general election in November.

Decisions and impasses by past reapportionment commissions leading to lawsuits have led to concern that redistricting this year could be delayed.

Of the six members on the commission, three were selected by Republicans and three by Democrats.

Republicans tried to change the process in 2019 by putting forward legislation for a proposed constitutional amendment that would have added a seventh member to the commission selected by the governor, lieutenant governor, state controller, state treasurer and superintendent of public instruction, all positions held then and now by Republicans.

The proposal failed after Democrats used procedural rules to slow House business, leading to the proposal being shelved.