In our opinion: Gerrymandering is a brazen abuse of political power

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  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 2, 2018 10:28 p.m.

    Gerrymandering is a brazen abuse of political power. It is almost as bad as the Russians interfering in our elections. Gerrymandering has profound consequences in our elections and democratic process. It should not be allowed in one single state, whichever party it benefits. It should be illegal with severe consequences for doing it.

  • msmith9596 Lake Forest, CA
    Dec. 30, 2017 6:27 p.m.

    Both "sides" are proposing gerrymandering. Whether the position is considered gerrymandering comes down to who gets hurt. The only clear option would be grids which expand or contract to the required population. All other proposals are attempts create unjustifiable balances which valid debates would make unnecessary. Create the grids and allow debate within those grids to determine which way the vote goes.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    Dec. 30, 2017 11:31 a.m.

    I am truly amazed at the twisted logic that says that SLC and its environs ought to be carved up and exiled into Right Wing areas with the effect of diluting a distinct area of importance.

    Amazing, truly amazing. And all about raw exercise of power.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 11:42 p.m.

    Most legislators in Utah have affiliation with the LDS Church, personally and through relationships.

    LDS believe:

    “We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

    2 We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”

    Honesty and integrity is a requirement for a government to be trustworthy.

    Government in Utah and nationally should be onboard with these behavior and beliefs.

  • LOU Montana Pueblo, CO
    Dec. 29, 2017 10:20 p.m.

    Gerrymandering is a form of racism and White privilage.

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    Dec. 29, 2017 8:56 p.m.

    It is a shame but this has existed and executed by all political factions who seek for power over others since our Constitution. But no one is so effective as certain King Men who want complete control. By controlling certain small areas they have managed to lever Congress to the point of paralysis. Is the Speaker of the House supported by a majority of the voters or just a small faction? Great job certain brothers. I am afraid if I mention names this won't be posted.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 8:35 p.m.

    All states should have districts drawn up by independent commissions.

  • Palmetto Bug Columbia, SC
    Dec. 29, 2017 6:45 p.m.

    Matheson held a seat for a decade until the 2010 census when his district was chopped up and spread across strong republican districts. There hasn’t been a meaningful race since then. Democrats haven’t done themselves any favors with some of their candidates but they’ve run plenty of reasonable options. A fun game I used to play was to blindly read someone the platform of the republican and democratic candidates and have them guess which was which. More often than not, they would guess the democrat was the republican. Many Utah Democrats would be considered conservative in many other states.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 3:44 p.m.

    Great opinion by the D-News!

    If it took the disenfranchising of Navajo voters for the D-News to come out against Gerrymandering... I'll take it.

    The case in Wisconsin is particularly offensive to anyone who cares about citizens having the right to vote for who will represent them. 62% of votes cast for Democrats translates into a Republican majority in the Wisconsin Legislature?

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 3:36 p.m.

    This is definitely an issue where the courts can make right some wrongs and should. But how about the electoral college. There is no indication this has served us very well except to disenfranchise voters in many of the politically one sided states. Why not take the banner of “count my vote”.

    Every governor and every senator must focus on their entire constituency. That is not the case in a presidential elections.

  • at long last. . . Kirksville , MO
    Dec. 29, 2017 2:57 p.m.

    There is a vast amount of ignorance displayed by the folks commenting on this article. Just accept that the dominant party in any state will draw boundaries favorable to themselves. Drawing a safe Democrat district is just as bad as drawing a safe Republican one.

    Stop whining and start working for your preferred party, if you don't like it. These districts are legally drawn - so get over it. If you don't think they are, then sue the appropriate entity.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 2:49 p.m.

    @one old man
    Do the math.

    If all the democrats in Utah were to move to one district, they couldn't carry a national candidate. Not even with 100% turnout.

    The San Juan County problem does not affect the state as a whole.

    By putting all the democrats in one district, you COULD pretty much guarantee one Member of Congress. As it stands now, you'd have to move closer together. Even gerrymandering wouldn't work. The trouble is red pockets in your way.

    And the fertility rate gets in your way....and HAFB...and Davis County...and Draper...and West Jordan...

    It's complicated.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 2:08 p.m.

    But, but, but . . . how in the world could a GOPer be elected in Utah if their districts were not gerrymandered.

    Are you really proposing that elections should be FAIR?

    Make America Sane (and Safe) Again

  • JSKM1232 Sandy, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 1:37 p.m.

    @Flashback - Kearns, UT

    "Shelby's "expert" is most likely a liberal. Interesting to see what will happen. Political gerrymandering is fine, racial is not:
    - - - - - -
    Racial gerrymandering is PRECISELY what has occurred in San Juan county.

  • Strider303 American Fork, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 1:34 p.m.

    A thought: An “independent” commission (or anything) is a figment of the imagination. It belongs in the bin with “the check is in the mail”, and “my dog ate my homework”. I do not favor independent commissions in anything political.

    Another: Judges are neither independent nor non-partisan. They are creatures of the political process. Their sense of empowerment to correct wrongs, perceived and actual, can be dangerous if not checked.

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 1:04 p.m.

    I agree with the title - gerrymandering is absolutely wrong. How to stop it? I don't know. But I'll tell you one thing, I'm ashamed of the Utah legislature for blatantly gerrymandering our congressional districts. I am not a registered republican, but I've yet to vote for a democrat, and doubt it will ever happen. That said, I am ashamed that we have 4 republican representatives. Our population suggests quite clearly that we should have 3 republican representatives and 1 democrat. The fact that the republican legislature driving the bus would railroad the state by saying 75% isn't enough, we need 100% is shameful. All their excuses and reasoning for the bizarre district boundaries are ridiculous.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 12:52 p.m.

    Utah democrats only manage to get 30% of the vote in Statewide races. These cannot be gerrymandered....except by the federal government when it drew State boundaries with the obvious intent to keep as much valuable land away from Utah as possible.

    Some number of GOP cast a sympathy or protest vite in Statewide races knowing it won't affect the outcome. So probably only 25% of Utahsn prefer Democrats.

    If we gerrymandered an all urban district to be democrat safe, the other districts would be GOP safe and much larger geographically.

    On rural issues, one of our 3 rural-urban mix votes would be cancelled by the pure urban vote.

    Utah has been well aerved by our mixed urban-rural districts. One or two districts are competitive as evidenced by Matheson holding a seat for other a decade.

    Geographic mix is not partisan even if it results in an outcome urban democrats hate.

    Democrats are not entitled to the most radically liberal congressman they can find. Nominating Misty Snow means they deserve to lose.

    Nominate a pro-life, pro-gun moderate and they will be competitive.

  • patriotstate Cedar City, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 12:37 p.m.

    No one can claim that gerrymandering is fair, or within the ethical real of reason. As a native Bay Stater (gerrymandering was invented by Massachusetts Democrats), I saw the effects of gerrymandering to keep the state democratic.

    Gerryandering should be illegal, in all of its forms. I have not the slightest concern for any special interests who are afraid of losing their perks when gerrymandering is n longer used to continue the cycle of power by the ruling party.

    I do find it interesting though, that it finally has become a public concern, when it is costing democratic votes. Hippocrates is giggling.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 10:51 a.m.

    @2bits "That's great, but you also predicted the imminent and inevitable collapse of capitalism in America (back in 2008). And you predicted the collapse of our government several times in the past. All false. What... are we supposed to start believing you now? After crying, "Wolf!", so many times before?"

    I don't think you realize how close we came to a complete collapse of the system beginning in 2008. It took heroic acts by Hank Paulson, Barack Obama, and the FEDERAL RESERVE which did unprecedented things to reflate the America economy - some of them undocumented. We in fact came very close to losing it! I had ever reason to think the whole system was cooked.

    As for the present, Donald Trump and his movement are really different. They are nothing less than the rise of American fascism. Constitutional government is threatened.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 10:27 a.m.

    RE: "Gerrymandering is a brazen abuse of political power"...
    ---
    I agree.

    What I disagree with is the assumption that it's a Utah thing. Or a Republican thing. It's not. It's done by both sides, in every State. And it's been illegal for a long time. So what are you proposing we do now?

    Just complain about it?

    It's already illegal.

    I know it makes for a great complaining topic at parties and such, but what can we actually do about it?

    ===

    @marxist - 10:01
    RE: "This next year we may well see the end of constitutional government in the United States"...
    ---
    That's great, but you also predicted the imminent and inevitable collapse of capitalism in America (back in 2008). And you predicted the collapse of our government several times in the past. All false. What... are we supposed to start believing you now? After crying, "Wolf!", so many times before?

    ===

    Not defending gerrymandering at all. Just saying what can you do about it? And what have you done about it when Democrats do it? Have you spoken out equally when Democrats have Gerrymandered districts in other States controlled by Democrats? It happens.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 10:01 a.m.

    @TeaPublican "Now the Republicans ARE winning...deal with it! Just how America IS folks. And Republicans ARE making America great again!"

    And what happens when Republicans lose? We're seeing an example in Alabama. Even though his loss has been certified Roy Moore is claiming an invalid election. He refuses to accept his loss. What happens if Democrats win big in 2018? Trump will claim the entire elective process is rigged against Republicans (he would have done the same if he had lost the presidential election). This next year we may well see the end of constitutional government in the United States, thanks to Trump and "teapublicans."

  • 1Reader Alpine, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 9:55 a.m.

    Gerrymandering is possibly this country's greatest problem because it creates a dysfunctional government comprised of extreme partisan leaders which leads to unbalanced bills and regulations.

  • Fitz Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 9:43 a.m.

    It seems that when Judge Shelby is found in the news, Shelby is handing down a decision that is totally opposite to the original nature of the issue. A interesting question. For the Judge to tell the County that one of his 'so-called independent experts' is a bit past his position. This is an interesting question as well.

    With the nature of the situation of this decision, and the likelihood of SCOTUS' opinion this year, the only way for San Juan County will have to push the Utah Legislature to redraw the County boundaries to a point that San Juan County would have the voting district they want. And there would them be the 30th Utah County and they would have their own voting districts.

    This "gerrymandering" is pushed but it has had its own way for many, many decades. It is not up to the judicial system, it is up to each State. What a mess.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Dec. 29, 2017 9:40 a.m.

    Right is right even if no one is doing it and wrong is still wrong even if everyone is doing it. We are best served when all voices are heard and that includes the far right and the far left. Let's talk about Utah and only Utah since what other states do we can't control. What is happening in San Juan is wrong and sadly it took a judge to fix it. I applaud the judge for doing the right thing. I hope the next correction come with congressional districts. We should have a southern Utah district, a northern Utah district and two Wasatch front districts. Part of the problems with the national monuments is we don't have representation from southern Utah. Three of our four representatives live on the Wasatch front. After that let's take care of state boundaries. One Senator per county, and divide House of Representatives by population by county. Each county gets one and the remainder are based on population. Very simple and fair

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    Dec. 29, 2017 9:07 a.m.

    When I was growing up in a small town in central Utah, I believed that Democrats were evil. And luckily, at the time, I never had to face one!

    Before I left high school, my opinion had reversed completely. Not because I didn’t see hypocrisy everywhere, I just didn’t want to be part of the greater side of it.

    Utah’s Republican leaders - most of whom claim religious beliefs, mind you - seem to have no problem with the “brazen abuse of political power” called out by DN. If it’s unfair, it’s also unethical.

  • TeaPublican Houston, TX
    Dec. 29, 2017 8:50 a.m.

    Oh please! This IS how things work in America! "To the victor belong the spoils"! It's common knowledge and accepted in America that the winner of a conflict gains additional benefits, beyond the subject of the conflict! The winner of a conflict gains additional benefits, beyond the subject of the conflict! The winner of the political battle gets everything that goes with victory! Just like your President Obama said to Republicans: I won. Deal with it. Now the Republicans ARE winning...deal with it! Just how America IS folks. And Republicans ARE making America great again!

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 8:46 a.m.

    Fashioning a remedy here is like reforming Obamacare; it is impossible to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

    And expecting the bench to be apolitical in nonsense.

    Most absurd of all is the fact that these judgments and decrees ignore egregious maps like IL-4, the district of Luis Gutierrez.

  • There You Go Again St George, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 8:25 a.m.

    The DN comes out against gerrymandering.

    Ok.

    Why now?

    The DN has been solidly behind every brazen abusive political trick the Republicans have used to gain/maintain control/power over Americans...

    For example...

    Citizens United...Merrick Garland...the flip/flop on the current Republican Heart, Soul and Face in the WH (DN 10/8/16)...etc....come to mind.

    Again...Why the switcheroo...now?

  • Thomas Jefferson Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 8:17 a.m.

    A disgusting abuse of power...that some people seem to be OK with. As usual it all comes down to whos ox is being gored.

  • Palmetto Bug Columbia, SC
    Dec. 29, 2017 8:14 a.m.

    Both red and blue states are guilty of gerrymandering. It doesn’t matter what other states do, Utah should take the lead in doing what’s right.

    And whether gerrymandering is done along racial or political lines it’s an unethical practice intended to oppress a minority population. I hope after the next census that Utah’s political leaders will redraw the lines so SL has its own representative. The state is probably comprised of 20-40% Democrats so it’s fair that at least one district have a Democrat representative.

    I don’t belong to either party.

  • milquetoasty Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 8:09 a.m.

    @Flashback

    You said:

    "Shelby's "expert" is most likely a liberal. Interesting to see what will happen. Political gerrymandering is fine, racial is not."

    In what universe is political gerrymandering "fine?" Please explain. I am terrified that anyone could even suggest something like that with a straight face. This is political gamesmanship of the most cynical and nihilistic variety.

    @at long last...

    I'm confused by your comment. You say that nothing ought to be done about gerrymandering, as long as "legal requirements" are met, but acknowledge that there are "no shortage" of lawsuits regarding rigging of districts. Rigging the districts IS the problem...

    You then go on to say "leave a non-problem alone." Voter disenfranchisement is okay with you? Do you think it makes sense that voters in Salt Lake City, the capital of our state, are completely neutered from congressional representation?

    When was the last time you looked at Utah's congressional district map? Tell me why Salt Lake City the center of the district "pizza?" Shouldn't we be our own slice?

    Please try to explain why I, a Salt Lake City voter, should be okay with this set up.

  • Egyptian origins Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 8:01 a.m.

    The first "Salamander" Letter from the Boston Gazette in 1812 over Elbridge Gerry's Map. Today the GOP calls it Operation REDMAP (Redistricting Majority Project) which began after the 2010 Census. As we've seen in several Elections Operation REDMAP has helped the GOP in States where they lose the popular vote. The Constitutional intent was to include the increased population into the voting process, not zone us into discriminating districts. I personally am not in favor of a Party System, so I'm even more not in favor of a dominant Party rigging our Elections in their favor. Ezra Taft Benson, former Secretary of Agriculture, gave a speech on 25 October 1966 in UT titled, "Our Immediate Responsibility" where he warned we must not vote for Parties, or even individuals, but for "principles" which are in harmony with the principles of our Constitution. It was a warning to us back then that if we didn't head the warning he predicted destruction of this Nation, of the Constitution, and our Freedom. He urged a diligent study of the Constitution and be able to compare and contrast it with what our leaders were doing. Today our Constitution is hanging as it were by a single thread.

  • RWOFVA RIVERTON, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 7:53 a.m.

    Nobody complains about gerrymandering, kickbacks, loopholes, campaign finance laws, lobbiests influences, etc when those things serve their own political interests. But when the other side does it, watch the righteous indignation flow.

  • at long last. . . Kirksville , MO
    Dec. 29, 2017 7:22 a.m.

    Gerrymandering is inevitable. As long as the legal requirements are met (contiguous area, equal population, et cetera) there is nothing that ought to be done about it. If the rigging of the districts is that egregious then lawsuits are in order, and there have been no shortage of those.

    The party in power always does the best they can, within the law, to benefit their party. Non-partisan commissions rarely are non-partisan, so I doubt that is the answer. There are a plethora of more pressing issues. Leave a 'non-problem' alone.

  • stevo123 Driggs, ID
    Dec. 29, 2017 7:19 a.m.

    Well written article. The carving up of Salt Lake and San Juan County to further cement political power is wrong.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    Dec. 29, 2017 7:00 a.m.

    Gerrymandering is a time honored tradition in this country. It keeps the powerful so. And the disfavored weak. And it is time to end it.

    Some states (interesting enough, mostly Blue ones) have used commissions and like committees to fix boundaries on legislative districts that attempt to create competition. Since I believe that competition is one of the doctrines so loved by the Right, why don't they promote that? Most Red states are gerrymandered so badly as to be an embarrasssment to a nation committed to equal rights for all and each person's vote counting. The effect of gerrymandered Red states is to keep the Right in power despite losing overall vote totals.

    So who really believes in democracy and the competition of ideas? (Spoiler alert: It ain't the GOP.)

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 6:52 a.m.

    Shelby's "expert" is most likely a liberal. Interesting to see what will happen. Political gerrymandering is fine, racial is not.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 6:47 a.m.

    Yes it is, and Utah politics is horrible for this very reason.

    The GOP has made the most ridiculous patchwork of mazes in order to insure that the GOP doesn't have to compete for elections.

  • JKR Holladay, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 6:39 a.m.

    Utah's congressional districts are "somewhat" gerrymandered? Of course, they are completely gerrymandered with the express purpose of disenfranchising Democratic voters in Salt Lake County. The recent protests against Rep Jason Chaffetz support this point. Why was Chaffetz, the 3rd district rep from Utah County, meeting in Cottonwood Heights? Why would he represent the Salt Lake County east bench? Answer: gerrymandering. The legislature should fix the congressional district boundaries sooner rather than later, and do it fairly through the proposed independent redistricting commission.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Dec. 29, 2017 6:28 a.m.

    Yes. We've run the experiment, so now we know: Gerrymandering ultimately undermines fairness and democracy, and can also enable extremism. This practice needs to be stopped.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Dec. 29, 2017 6:26 a.m.

    You've seen the videos, I'd bet, of the congressional district art show. Outlines of congressional districts displayed in a gallery as art, insofar as their tortured rorschach test shapes do resemble Picasso cubism more than any sort of geopolitical division.
    Governmental districting of any kind should never be in the hands of lawmakers. Never. It should be done by independent committee, and ideally computer algorithm. The criteria, I believe, by which districts are portioned should include population rules (allowable over/under) municipal continuity (don't carve part of a town off if that town is not sufficiently populated to have more than one district) and geographic sense. In other words, no arms or appendages to grab your favoured voters somewhere else. Above all, they should reflect the citizens of the area, irrespective of race or gender or income. America is diverse; let its' lawmakers reflect this. And, those that run in those districts need then appeal to their constituency as a whole and diverse place, instead of a homogeneous safe haven.