Eye On Boise

Geddes: Law was intended to make redistricters’ job easier, not harder…

Former Idaho Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes addresses the Idaho Redistricting Commission on Monday; at right is Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who's watching from the front row of the audience. (Betsy Russell)
Former Idaho Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes addresses the Idaho Redistricting Commission on Monday; at right is Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who's watching from the front row of the audience. (Betsy Russell)

Former Idaho Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes told the citizen redistricting commission today that when he co-sponsored legislation adding requirements that districts be connected with roads and precincts not be split without a five-of-six votes supermajority, "The Legislature did want to make your jobs easier." Instead, the commission has become hung up in a partisan procedural split over the issue. The idea, he said, was to preserve communities of interest - not to match up areas in districts that really have no connection and never interact, "to say that if you choose to connect couunties that don't have commonality, that it should be a conscious decision, not just fitting the parts of the puzzle that you're trying to put together."

Geddes said, "Did we think you could do it without making any deviations? I personally did not. But I thought the guidance ... would allow you to make communities of interest geographically perhaps a higher priority than it was given in the previous redistricting effort." Geddes noted that state law sets these as the first three priorities for drawing legislative districts: 1- Avoid dividing counties whenever possible. 2 - Have a road or highway connecting established communities of interest. 3 - District boundaries and local voting precincts shall remain intact as much as possible.

"Communities of interest in my opinion should be perhaps the paramount goal of the commission," Geddes said. "That is what makes Idaho unique." As Geddes spoke and was questioned by the commissioners, among those looking on from the audience was Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who's joined the meeting this afternoon and is sitting in the front row of the audience.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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