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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Redistricting commission plans public hearings across Idaho

Associated Press

Associated Press

BOISE – The Idaho commission charged with redrawing the state’s legislative and congressional districts will hold public hearings across the state over the next several weeks.

The hearings – one in each region and another online – will allow the commission to gather public comment with an aim toward finishing its work by October, a full month before the late November deadline, the Idaho Press reported.

“That’s very ambitious, and I acknowledge that we may be still working on that for another week or two after that, but that’s at least the initial target I get a sense we’re going to work towards,” said commission co-chair Bart Davis.

Under a 1994 constitutional amendment approved by Idaho voters, the six-member bipartisan commission is in charge of drawing new legislative and congressional district lines to match up with the results of the most recent census, to ensure the one-person, one-vote principle is preserved in Idaho elections amid population shifts.

Those shifts likely will mean at least one additional Idaho county must be split in the next legislative district map, beyond the seven already split in the current one; the commission also is charged with minimizing county splits as it draws new districts. Given population shifts, “Latah, Nez Perce or Idaho seem to make the most sense,” commission staffer Keith Bybee said, but that’ll be up to the commission.

The public hearings will be held in Boise and other southwestern Idaho communities starting the week of Sept. 13. In subsequent weeks the commission will hold meetings in North Idaho including Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston, followed by the central Idaho region including Twin Falls and Ketchum. Eastern Idaho’s public hearings will likely begin around Oct. 4, and a remote-access hearing for people anywhere in the state would be held the week of Oct. 11.