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County Commissioner Districts Gerrymandering

Concerning the drawing of voting districts by county governments.
2021 Regular Session
Elections & Redistricting
Local Government
Bill Summary

The bill establishes the process used by county commissioner redistricting commissions (commissions) to divide counties that have any number of their county commissioners not elected by the voters of the whole county into county commissioner districts. In these counties, the bill:

  • Requires the commissions to hold multiple hearings throughout the relevant counties that are broadcast and stored online and comply with state statutes regarding open meetings;
  • Requires the commission to provide the opportunity for public involvement by providing the ability to propose and comment on maps plans and to testify at commission hearings both in person and electronically;
  • Prohibits improper communication between a member of the commission and the staff of the commission or a member of an advisory committee ;
  • Mandates that paid lobbying of the commissions be disclosed to the secretary of state by the lobbyist;
  • Establishes prioritized factors for the commissions to use in drawing districts, including federal requirements, the preservation of communities of interest and political subdivisions, and maximizing the number of competitive districts;
  • Prohibits the commissions from approving a map plan if it has been drawn for the purpose of protecting one or more incumbent members, or one or more declared candidates, of the board of county commissioners, or any political party, and codifies current federal law and related existing federal requirements prohibiting maps plans drawn for the purpose of or that results in the denial or abridgement of a person's right to vote or electoral influence on account of a person's race, ethnic origin, or membership in a protected language group;
  • Requires the commission to approve a redistricting map plan and specifies the date by which a final map plan must be approved adopted by the board of county commissioners ; and
  • Specifies that the staff of each commission or an advisory committee will draft a preliminary redistricting map and up to 3 additional maps, and, in the event of deadlock by a commission, creates a process by which staff submit a final map to a panel of district court judges for review based on specified criteria; and no less than 3 plans .
  • Requires judicial review of a commission-approved or staff-submitted redistricting map, and limits district court judicial panel review to whether a commission or the staff committed an abuse of discretion.

The bill recommends that counties establish independent county commissioner redistricting commissions and provides criteria to consider when creating these independent commissions.

The bill allows counties to complete the establishment, revision, or alteration of county commissioner districts by December 29 rather than September 30 of the odd-numbered year following a census if the redistricting population data prepared by the staff of the legislative council and the office of legislative legal services is not available to counties before July 31 of the odd-numbered year following the census.

The bill aligns the redistricting population data used to establish county commissioner districts with the redistricting population data used to establish congressional districts, state house of representative districts, and state senate districts.

The bill also requires that, in a county where any number of county commissioners are not elected by the voters of the whole county and the board of county commissioners refers a measure to the voters of the county to change the method of electing county commissioners, the referred measure must provide at least 2 different methods of electing county commissioners.

Finally, the bill repeals anachronistic county precinct size rules and allows county clerk and recorders to redraw precincts less often.

(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)

(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)


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Bill Text

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