Third lawsuit filed against Idaho’s redistricting commission

December 1, 2021 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A third lawsuit has been filed with the Idaho Supreme Court against Idaho’s redistricting commission over a new map redrawing the state’s 35 legislative districts.

Spencer Stucki of Chubbuck, in southeastern Idaho, filed the lawsuit Wednesday against the Idaho Commission for Reapportionment and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney.

Stucki identifies himself as a co-chair for a group called the Committee for Fair Elections. Stucki in the lawsuit challenges the redrawing of districts mainly in southeastern Idaho.

“The districts in southeast Idaho look as though they could have been drawn to protect current senators,” the lawsuit states. “I contend that district No. 28 is an odd-shaped district.”

The six-person redistricting commission last month approved the map redrawing Idaho’s 35 legislative districts from which voters will select the state’s 105 lawmakers over the next 10 years.

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The commission was tasked with redrawing the districts based on the population as counted in the 2020 census. Idaho has been one of the nation’s fastest-growing states. Commissioners during multiple meetings examined where the growth occurred and said they tried to create districts roughly equal in population, with about 52,000 residents each.

The commission is required to avoid dividing counties into multiple legislative districts as much as possible. None of the 35 districts are allowed to have a population that varies by more 10% from any other district.

Still, there is no way to avoid splitting some of Idaho’s 44 counties into different districts, and the map the commission approved last month splits eight of Idaho’s 44 counties.

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

Stucki requests the court declare the map approved by the commission inadequate and instead consider maps that split nine counties, including a map he submitted, which the lawsuit contends received overwhelming favorable public testimony.

The map Stucki submitted “provides the most compact arrangement for the large counties with small populations for the state as whole,” the lawsuit states.

The Idaho Attorney General’s office, which is defending the commission, declined to comment.

The two other lawsuits each argue that the map chosen by the commission, which splits eight counties, is unconstitutional because it divides up more counties than necessary. Former lawmaker Brandon Durst and Ada County Commissioners filed their lawsuits last month.

The Idaho Supreme Court has consolidated those two lawsuits, and oral arguments are planned for January.

Redistricting lawsuits are common, with at least 10 cases filed over the last four redistricting attempts dating back to 1981.