Idaho’s bipartisan redistricting commission on Thursday began organizing a road show of regional public hearings and set a goal of finishing its first map by mid-October.
During the commission’s second meeting at the Statehouse, commissioners began piecing together schedules for September and October that would include public hearings in each major region of the state.
Generally speaking, commissioners plans to work three days a week – a mix of business meetings at the Statehouse where they actually redraw the legislative and congressional boundaries and public hearings in likely stops such as Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Hailey, Twin Falls, Boise, Meridian Nampa, Caldwell, Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston and Moscow.
By Oct. 13, the commissioners hope to have the first of two maps finished, if not voted on, co-chairman Bart Davis said.
“Now that’s very ambitious, and I acknowledge we may still be working on that for another week or two after that,” Davis said during the meeting. “But that is at least an initial target I get a sense we are going to work towards.”
Redistricting is the process of redrawing Idaho’s 35 legislative districts and two congressional districts based on new 2020 census data. The process is required by the U.S. Constitution and the Idaho Constitution, and it takes place every 10 years.
By law, commissioners have until Nov. 30 – 90 days from Wednesday’s initial meeting – to submit their maps and redistricting plan to the state.
The new boundaries will have far-reaching effects on Idaho elections and politics over the next decade. The maps will determine which candidates Idahoans are able to vote for and, therefore, who represents them and their neighbors in the Idaho Legislature and in Congress.
One of the major purposes of redistricting is to ensure representation is proportional across the state – the idea behind the “one person, one vote” principle.
Idaho was the second-fastest growing state in the country according to the 2020 census. But that growth was uneven and divided, which is why redistricting takes place once new U.S. Census Bureau data is available.
A look ahead at Idaho’s redistricting schedule
Each of the redistricting commission’s business meetings at the Statehouse are open to the public in-person and streamed via Idaho Public Television’s Idaho in Session service.
Commissioners plan three more business meetings next at the Statehouse: Wednesday through Sept. 10.
Starting in mid September, commissioners will begin touring the state with public hearings across the Treasure Valley. From there, they will spend the next three weeks on the road before returning to Boise to offer remote, streaming opportunities to anybody in the state who could not attend a regional public hearing.
A tentative schedule – yet to be finalized and subject to change – began coming together for commissioners Thursday:
- Sept. 8 through Sept. 10: Business meetings at the Statehouse.
- Sept. 15 through Sept. 17: Treasure Valley public hearings, with potential stops in Caldwell, Nampa, Boise, Meridian and Eagle.
- Sept. 22 through Sept. 24: North Idaho/North Central Idaho public hearings, with potential stops in Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene, the Coeur d’Alene reservation, Moscow and Lewiston.
- Sept. 29 and Sept. 30: Central Idaho public hearings, with potential stops in Hailey and Twin Falls.
- Oct. 6 and Oct. 7: Eastern Idaho public hearings, with potential stops in Idaho Falls, Rexburg and Pocatello.
- Oct. 12 and Oct. 13; Return to Boise for a remote hearing with public testimony and a business meeting at the Statehouse.
On some Fridays when public hearings are not scheduled, the commissioners will likely schedule business meetings where they can focus on the business of drawing maps.
“The way the schedule is shaping up, we are spending a lot of time in public hearings and not a lot of time map drawing, so we wanted to leave some Fridays open for business meetings,” Keith Bybee, a legislative services office deputy division manager for budget and policy, told the commissioners.
Specific meeting dates and agendas will be posted in the coming days as meetings get closer. Anyone may sign up on the redistricting commission’s website to receive updated agendas and meeting minutes via email.
The redistricting commission’s website also allows anyone to create their own legislative or congressional maps using a version of the Maptitude software commissioners will use.
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