A bipartisan committee has started its work on re-establishing the boundaries of Idaho’s congressional and state legislative districts.
The six-member Idaho Commission for Reapportionment started its work Sept. 1 to consider redrawing the lines for Idaho’s two federal congressional and 35 state legislative districts.
Redistricting is conducted at least once every 10 years, after a U.S. census is completed. It is required by both the state and federal constitutions to ensure that elected officials in the U.S. House and Idaho Legislature represent—in their respective bodies—roughly the same number of people.
For approximately the last decade, Blaine County has been in legislative District 26, which also includes Camas, Gooding and Lincoln counties. The population of the district was approximately 46,000 in 2020, which is about 6,500 people short of the target size of approximately 52,500 people, the state reported.
The commission’s draft map for redistricting puts Blaine County in District 35 with Lincoln and Jerome counties, while Camas and Gooding counties would remain in District 26 with most of Twin Falls County, minus the city of Twin Falls, which makes up its own district.
Each district has two representatives and one senator in the Legislature. In the Republican-dominated Legislature, District 26 is currently represented by three Democrats—Reps. Muffy Davis and Sally Toone, as well as Sen. Michelle Stennett, the minority leader.
On the federal level, Idaho’s 1st Congressional District ranges from southwest Idaho all the way north to Boundary County and the Canada border. Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District includes the entire southeast and central part of the state, ranging into Ada County and parts of eastern Boise.
Republican Rep. Russ Fulcher represents the 1st District, while longtime Rep. Mike Simpson, also a Republican, represents the 2nd District.
Though Idaho has been one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, it did not gain enough population from 2010 to 2020 to gain any seats in Congress.
In a column released Friday, Stennett urged residents of her district to participate in the redistricting process. People can submit written testimony, submit their own proposed maps and participate in scheduled public meetings.
A meeting to discuss the process and review proposals is scheduled for 7-10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, in the Minnie Moore Room of the Community Campus in Hailey.
To submit testimony online or submit a proposed map, go to https://legislature.idaho.gov/redistricting/2021/.
“This is very important work, and your input is crucial to achieving new maps that are fair to all Idahoans,” Stennett said in her column.
The Commission for Reapportionment includes three former politicians who have identified as Republican and three people who have identified as Democrat. To be approved, a redistricting plan has to be approved by two-thirds of the commission—or four of the six commissioners.
The commission has 90 days from its start date to complete its work. Stennett said it is aiming to complete the process by the end of October.
The ultimate goal is to have the new districts approved and in place before the filing period for candidates in 2022 primary elections opens on Feb. 28.
While the work of the commission will likely wrap long before then, court challenges to the redistricting plan could delay final implementation.