Redrawing of Idaho’s Legislative Districts Set to Begin

24 Aug 2021, by Seth Grigg Share :

Idaho’s Citizen Commission for Reapportionment has been officially organized by Secretary of State Lawerence Denney. The Commission is an independent, bipartisan committee formed every 10 years to redraw Idaho’s congressional and legislative district boundaries. The Committee is composed of three democrats and three republicans with the sign off of at least four commissioners necessary for a plan to be adopted. The 2021 Commission includes four former legislators: former Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis (Bonneville County), former Senator Dan Schmidt (Latah County), former Representative Tom Dayley (Ada County) and former Representative Eric Redmond (Kootenai County). The other two Commission members are Amber Pense (Teton County) and Nils Mitchell (Ada County). The Commission will hold its first meeting Sept. 1-3 in Boise.

Rules for Redistricting

The Commission must adhere to the Idaho Constitution, Idaho State Statutes, as well as case law when adopting the new plan. The primary legal requirements for reapportion are:

  • Districts must be similar in population, with the ideal legislative district size of 52,546 and no more than 10% variation between the smallest legislative district and the largest legislative district,
  • County splits must be minimized. For example, if the Commission approves a map with eight county splits but could have done so with only seven county splits, the map with eight splits could be overturned in court,
  • Traditional neighborhoods and communities of interest should be preserved in the same district,
  • If a district contains multiple counties, then the counties must be contiguous,
  • Counties in districts containing multiple counties must be connected by a federal or state highway unless five of the six commissioners determine it is not practical,
  • Existing voter precincts should not be split unless five of six commissioners determine it is not practical, and
  • Oddly shaped districts should be avoided (but not required).

More information regarding redistricting laws and policies can be found here.

2020 Census Results

According to the 2020 Census, Idaho has grown by 271,524 people since 2010 (17%). Most of this growth is centered in five counties: Ada, Bonneville, Canyon, Kootenai, and Madison. Of these counties, Madison County had the highest growth rate of 41% and is now the county closest to the ideal legislative district size (52,913). Other counties increasing their share of legislative districts are Ada, Canyon, and Kootenai. Legislative districts in these four counties will become more densely populated resulting in 1-2 new districts from the combined growth of the four counties. This means all other districts will increase in size, resulting in larger rural districts. Legislative districts most impacted by population shifts will be those covering Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis, and Nez Perce in North Idaho, legislative districts in the Wood River Valley and Magic Valley, and legislative districts in southeastern Idaho.

County officials are encouraged to participate in the redistricting process in making recommendations to the Commission regarding how your county would like to see maps drawn. The state will provide interactive tools for the public to use in submitting comments and proposed maps. While the tools are not yet available, they will be available on the Commission’s website.