In 2018, Utah voters passed a reform initiative (Proposition 4), which was rendered fully advisory by the legislature (SB 200) in 2020. Utah’s congressional and state legislative lines are both drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.
In the 2020 cycle, the Independent Redistricting Commission proposed dozens of congressional and state legislative maps. On Nov. 12, 2020 Gov. Cox signed HB2004 into law, establishing a new congressional map that ignored the commission’s maps by splitting pieces of Salt Lake County into four safely-Republican districts.
In the 2010 cycle, Utah’s legislature passed a congressional plan (SB 3002) on Oct. 17, 2011, which was signed by the Governor on Oct. 20, 2011. The legislature passed state Senate (SB 3001) and state House (HB 3001) plans on Oct. 4, 2011; the Governor signed the state House plan on Oct. 19, 2011, and the state Senate plan on Oct. 20, 2011. On Jan. 27, 2012, the legislature passed SB 125 and HB 286, with amendments to state legislative boundaries; both were signed on Jan. 30, 2012.
Key Info for 2000 Cycle
Primary governing law
Key Info for 2010 Cycle
Primary governing law
Utah’s congressional and state legislative lines are both drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.
The legislature receives input from a statutory seven-person independent commission appointed by Feb. 1, 2021; the governor and each of the four legislative leaders (majority and minority leader in each legislative house) select one commissioner, the majority leaders in the Senate and House together choose one commissioner, and the minority leaders in the Senate and House together choose one commissioner. None of the commissioners may be a lobbyist; be a candidate for or hold elected public office, statewide appointed public office, or an office in a political party; be a consultant or employee of a party, candidate, or state or federal legislator; or report directly to an elected or statewide appointed public official. And for two years before their appointment, none of the commissioners may have been affiliated with a political party or partisan organization or voted in a party primary. [Utah Code § 20A-20-201] The names of the commissioners are listed here.
Commissioners must approve three draft maps for each of the congressional, state Senate, and state House plans. Sets of plans that are not all approved by a five-member supermajority must include one map with the approval of the commissioner chosen jointly by the majority leadership and one map with the approval of the commissioner chosen jointly by the minority leadership. [Utah Code § 20A-20-302]
These maps are presented to the legislature at a public hearing. The legislature may then adopt, modify, or ignore the commission’s proposal. [Utah Code § 20A-20-303(5)]
No later than 14 days after its final public hearing (and so no later than Nov. 15, 2021), the advisory independent commission must present three different versions of congressional, state Senate, and state House maps to the legislature, along with an explanatory report. Within 15 days of receiving the report, the legislative redistricting committee considers the maps at a public meeting, with public comment. [Utah Code §§ 20A-20-302, -303]
Utah state law does not impose a particular deadline by which the legislature must draw congressional lines, though candidates must file for congressional primary elections by Mar. 17, 2022. [Utah Code § 20A 9-408]
The legislature’s constitutional deadline for drawing state legislative lines is the end of the first legislative session after census data is received, though the 2001 legislature passed redistricting legislation in special session. The 2022 regular session is currently scheduled to begin on Jan. 24, 2022, and end no later than Mar. 12, 2022. [Utah Const. art. VI, § 2; Utah Const. art. VI, § 16; Utah Const. art. IX, § 1] Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by Mar. 17, 2022. [Utah Code § 20A 9-408]
Utah ties the drawing of both congressional and state legislative lines to the Census, and might therefore be construed to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade. [Utah Const. art. IX, § 1]
By statute, the advisory independent commission must hold at least seven public hearings before Nov. 1, 2021, in particular designated regions of the state, for members of the public to propose maps and comment on maps, and the legislative redistricting committee must consider maps recommended by the commission at a public meeting. The commission is subject to Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act. [Utah Code §§ 20A-20-203(1)(b), -301]
The commission must also maintain a website for the public to access records of commission meetings and hearings, and to access and submit maps and comments on maps. [Utah Code § 20A-20-201(13)] That website can be found here. The 2021 meeting schedule for public input can be found here.
Like all states, Utah must comply with constitutional equal population requirements. State statutes further provide that congressional districts recommended by the advisory commission must have a total deviation of no more than 1% from largest to smallest, and state legislative districts recommended by the advisory commission must have a total deviation of no more than 10% from largest to smallest. [Utah Code § 20A-20-302(4)]
Utah must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race. State statutes further provide that a plan recommended by the advisory commission may not “use race as a predominant factor in drawing district lines.” [Utah Code § 20A-20-302(4)]
State statutes also require, for maps recommended by the commission, that each district be contiguous and “reasonably” compact; state law also provides that maps recommended by the commission, “to the extent practicable,” should preserve communities of interest; follow natural, geographic, or manmade features or boundaries; preserve the cores of prior districts; minimize the division of municipalities and counties; nest boundaries of different types of districts. These maps may also not intentionally or unduly favor or disfavor candidates or parties. [Utah Code § 20A-20-302(4)-(5)]
Finally, state statutes allow the independent advisory commission to follow the legislature’s lead if the legislature creates smaller population deviation standards for state legislative districts, and allows the commission to blind itself to the addresses of candidates or electoral data (except for compliance with the Voting Rights Act), if it wishes. [Utah Code § 20A-20-302(6)-(7)]
The legislature may modify any of these statutory requirements if it wishes. Moreover, the statutory criteria for maps recommended by the commission do not appear to constrain the maps finally passed by the legislature.
The legislature passed state Senate (SB 3001) and state House (HB 3001) plans on Oct. 4, 2011; the Governor signed the state House plan on Oct. 19, 2011, and the state Senate plan on Oct. 20, 2011. On Jan. 27, 2012, the legislature passed SB 125 and HB 286, with amendments to state legislative boundaries; both were signed on Jan. 30, 2012.
It appears that these plans were not challenged in court.