For Immediate Release

Friday, July 31, 2009

Progress for Fair Boundaries: Now It is the Voters’ Turn

Salt Lake City, Utah – Today’s decision by the Utah State Supreme Court marks an historic turning point for the process of redistricting in Utah. The government officials have completed their review and the public will now have the opportunity to take direct action by signing onto the Fair Boundaries citizens’ initiative to create an independent Utah Redistricting Standards Commission. With the hurdles cleared, the citizens’ initiative petitions can begin circulating as early as next week.

Since filing the Fair Boundaries initiative with Utah’s Office of the Lieutenant Governor several weeks ago, it has been reviewed for legal compliance, received the required fiscal note, had a series of public hearings, and the fiscal note has been challenged in Utah’s Supreme Court.

Even though the Court ruled to keep the note of $1 million intact, the case was useful to establish that if the legislature implements the initiative as intended, the redistricting process can be accomplished within existing budgets. Only if the legislature ignores the will of the people and decides to duplicate the process by running a parallel committee, then the costs might reach as high as the $1 million fiscal note.

While not admitted as evidence, a memorandum to Thom Roberts of the Utah Attorney General’s Office showed that the cost of the 2001 process was $327,000 – a more realistic amount even if there should be a duel track process. Fair Boundaries asks that this memo now be released to the public.

Nikki Norton, Board Member for the Fair Boundaries Coalition stated, “We are thrilled to finally be able to deliver petitions to voters who have waited a decade for this opportunity to make their voices heard. It is finally the voters’ turn to have a say. Our intent is to reconnect citizens with their representatives through maps that make sense and put limits on the conflict of interest where elected officials select which people can vote for them.”

Every ten years, after the decennial census, the legislative, congressional and school district districts are reconfigured based on new population numbers. If the redistricting reform measures take hold, critics assert that it won’t take another decade before Randolph can be one city again and Tooele County will have adequate representation.

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Contact: Nikki Norton

Fair Boundaries Coalition
774 South 1650 East #C
Clearfield, UT 84015

Merrill Nelson
Attorney at Law
1800 Eagle Gate Tower
60 East South Temple
Salt Lake, UT 84111