News Opinions / Op-eds

Why you should vote “No” on HJR4

The Idaho Constitution allows for 30-35 legislative districts, while HJR4 fixes it to just 35. Currently, this issue is being conflated with a push for one senator per county in Idaho; these are separate issues.

The short version is HJR4 is an attempt to create a 10 legislative district Ada County and the Legislature is unaware of the mathematical consequences. By having Ada County “barely” qualifying for 10 districts, this will force a minimum of 10 counties being split. The keyword is “barely.” Idaho currently has 7 counties being split.

If the population for a 10 district Ada is not obtained, Ada becomes a feeder county. An example pairing of the “north end” of Boise and Boise County would cause grief for both Boise and Ada Counties. Watch out Canyon, Gem, Boise, Elmore, and Owyhee Counties. A minimum of 9 counties will be split.

If the 10-district mark is obtained, Idaho will not have an effective ± 5% margin in redrawing lines because of “barely” qualifying. Outside of Ada, the rest of the state will have to figure out how to absorb almost half of a legislative district; extra counties will be forced split as a result. Redistricting within Ada County will become a major hassle because a small fraction of a percent will have to be shared between 10 districts. From my own personal experience on drawing Ada County maps in the last redistricting, precincts would have to be split at the front end of the process and we would have gutted pre-existing redistricting guidelines.

Finally, there are pre-existing maps with analysis involving reducing the number of legislative districts. A split in Bonner County does not have to occur. I would also like to know who is trying to split Latah County down the middle. These were presented to a few Republican legislators over two years ago; this is long before HJR4 was written. Was this information presented to their fellow legislators and to the public?

Chris Pentico

The only Republican that was identified doing a statewide analysis for redistricting Idaho 10 years ago at their Convention

One reply on “Why you should vote “No” on HJR4”

Fred, you are missing what the ± 5.0% population margin does. (10 x 0.95)/35 = approximately 27.142857%; (10 districts for Ada at 95% capacity as a result of ± 5% margin) divided by 35 districts which HJR4 fixes. 2019 U.S. Census estimates has Ada County around 26.95% of Idaho’s population. Linear projections for 2020 put Ada at 27.13% for the 2010-2019 trend line and 27.12% for the 2018-2019 percent change extrapolation. Whatever percentage above the 27.142857% is what Ada County will have as a margin to draw their 10 districts. Essentially, it is too close to call if Ada County will qualify for 10 districts, but if it does, the margins for redrawing the Ada County districts will be measured in the “tens” of people and not percentages. Precincts will be forced split and redistricting rules will be gutted.

You are correct that a lower number of districts will force the number of constituents per legislator to go up. Legislative districts that are essentially cities like Coeur d’ Alene, Twin Falls, Pocatello, and Idaho Falls will grow into their impact zones; this is part of a donut-hole effect. This leaves more rural counties to be paired together in making new districts with the higher population numbers. Those new districts would be kept “rural” in their mindsets.

By staying at 35 districts, more counties will be split than at lower numbers of districts; this fact may seem counterintuitive. By voting “yes,” you are taking options off the table. Many people thought these options would never have to be used. I do not wish to be a person that destroys rural representation but splitting extra counties will do this. Furthermore, federal guidelines requires minimizing the number of counties to be split.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Gem State Patriot News