Republican Utah lawmakers gave an early nod of approval Monday to redistricting maps that further carve up Democratic-leaning Salt Lake County, despite urging from a crowd of frustrated people to choose districts drawn by a voter-approved independent body.
Many speakers argued the lawmaker-drawn maps were aimed at further diluting the political voice of those who live in and around the state capital, a process known broadly as gerrymandering. Lawmakers, though, said their districts are aimed at reflecting the state as a whole by including both urban and rural voters.
Many people speaking at a legislative hearing, though, said putting Salt Lake County into four districts rather than the three it’s currently in would further drown out dissenting voices. Utah is overall a reliably Republican state, but its 4th Congressional district has flipped between Republicans and Democrats. The lawmaker-drawn maps are generally considered to make that district more reliably conservative.