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Idaho’s new redistricting map faces second legal challenge

November 18, 2021 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A second legal challenge has been filed against Idaho’s redistricting commission over a new map redrawing the state’s 35 legislative districts.

Ada County Commissioners filed the petition with the Idaho Supreme Court on Wednesday, contending that the map is unconstitutional because it splits up more counties than necessary. That’s the same argument made in a lawsuit filed by former state lawmaker Branden Durst last week.

The commission was tasked with redrawing the districts based on the population as counted in the 2020 census. Idaho has been one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, and the commissioners examined where that growth occurred and attempted to create districts roughly equal in population, with about 52,000 residents each.

The commission is required to map new legislative districts that do not have more than a 10% population variance and they are supposed to avoid dividing counties into multiple districts as much as possible. Still, there is no way to avoid splitting some counties into different districts.

The map the redistricting commission settled on splits eight counties, including Ada County. The commissioners want the Idaho Supreme Court to order the commission to revise the map to reduce the number of splits.

On the map, three portions of Ada County were split and each portion was joined with either Gem, Canyon or Owyhee County. Other highly populated counties were also split, including Kootenai and Canyon counties.

“This parsing out of Ada County to achieve an ideal district size is constitutionally prohibited,” the commissioners wrote in the complaint.

Redistricting lawsuits are common. At least 10 cases have been filed in the past four redistricting attempts dating back to 1981.

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This story has been updated to correct the name of the county that filed the legal challenge; it’s Ada County, not Aca County. It has also been updated to correct the spelling of a former state lawmaker’s first name; he is Branden Durst, not Brandon.