Congressional & Legislative
Primary Authority: Congressional and legislative plans are enacted by the Utah State Legislature, aided by an advisory commission and subject to the Governor’s veto. The Legislature can override a veto with a 2/3 vote in each chamber. Republicans currently have veto-proof majorities in both chambers.
If a bill is presented to the governor during or after session, the governor has 20 days to sign or veto it; otherwise, it becomes law without signature. Sundays and days of receipt are excluded from these calculations.
Advisory Commission: The Utah Independent Redistricting Commission, a 7-member, politically appointed advisory body, submits 3 proposals for each type of plan to the Legislature which is free to use, amend, or reject them.
- Members: The Governor appoints 1 member who serves as chair. The President of the Utah Senate, the Speaker of the Utah House, the minority leader of the Utah Senate, and the minority leader of the Utah House each appoints 1 member. The President of the Utah Senate and the Speaker of the Utah House jointly appoint 1 additional member, as do the minority leaders of the Utah Senate and House. [Utah Code Ann. § 20A-20-201(2)]
- Timing: Appointments must be made no later than February 1 of the year immediately following the decennial census year or, if there is a change in the number of districts at any other time, the day on which the Legislature appoints to committee to draw such map(s). If any of the appointing authorities fail to make their selections within the time prescribed, state law specifies which of the other appointing authorities will make the necessary appointment. The formed Commission can begin their work on February 1 of that year and the Commission is dissolved upon the legal enactment of the Legislature’s redistricting plans. [Utah Code Ann. §§ 20A-20-201(3), (8)]
- Eligibility: Commissioners may not, during their time of service: be a lobbyist or principal; be a candidate for or holder of any federal, state, or local elective office; be a candidate for or holder of any office of a political party (except for delegates to a party’s convention); be an employee of, or a paid consultant for, a political party, party committee, personal campaign committee, or any political action committee affiliated with a political party or controlled by an elected official or candidate for elective office; serve in public office via appointment by the Governor or Legislature; be employed by the U.S. Congress or the State Legislature; or hold any position that reports directly to an elected official or to any person appointed to any other public office by the Governor or Legislature. Commissioners may also not have, within the 2 years immediately prior to their appointment: been affiliated with a political party; voted in the primary election of a political party; or been a delegate to a political party convention. Nor may Commissioners be an individual affiliated with a partisan organization or cause (as determined by the appointing authority). Commissioners must sign and file a statement attesting to their eligibility with the Governor prior to serving. [Utah Code Ann. §§ 20A-20-201(5) – (7)]
- Voting: A majority is required for quorum. Official actions require a majority vote of a quorum present at a meeting of the Commission. Plans proposed to the Legislature should be approved by at least 5 Commissioners to the extent possible. If at least 5 Commissioners do not agree on one or more of the proposals for any particular type of plan, the Commission submits one plan supported by at least 5 members, if possible, and two plans approved by a majority of Commissioners; one of which must be approved by the Commissioner jointly appointed by the majority leaders and one which must be approved by the Commissioner jointly appointed by the minority leaders. [Utah Code Ann. § 20A-20-201(11); 20A-20-302(2), (3)]
- Public Input & Transparency: The Commission must hold at least 7 public hearings in specified regions of the state, including at least 2 hearings in a first or second class county but not in the same county. Hearings must provide a reasonable opportunity to submit written and oral comments and to propose maps for the Commission’s consideration. These hearings must be completed by October 17 of the year following the decennial census year if redistricting data is received on or before September 1 or, if received after September 1, within 46 days after the date of receipt. Commissioners are prohibited from engaging in private communications with any person other than Commissioners or Commission staff that is material to any redistricting map or element of a map being considered by, or to be proposed to, the Commission without making the details of such communication available to the public. Such disclosure must be made prior to the map or map element being considered by the Commission. The Commission and its members are subject to Utah’s Open and Public Meetings Act, Government Records Access and Management Act, and other specified state laws relating to budgetary and fiscal procedures. The Commission must maintain a website allowing the public to: access announcements and records of meetings and hearings; access maps presented to, or considered by, the Commission, along with their evaluations thereof; submit maps to the Commission; and submit comments on proposed or considered maps. [Utah Code Ann. §§ 20A-20-201(13); 20A-20-203; 20A-20-301]
Mapping Timeline: The Utah Independent Redistricting Commission must submit its 3 proposals for each type of plan to the Legislature no later than 14 days after the date of the final required public hearing. The Legislature’s redistricting committee must hold a public meeting to consider each of the submitted maps no later than 15 days after they are submitted, and the Legislature cannot enact plans before holding this hearing. The Legislature must enact final congressional and legislative plans by the end of the annual general session next following the receipt of decennial census results. [Utah Const. art. IX, § 1; Utah Code Ann. § 20A-20-303]
Redistricting Criteria: There are no binding congressional or legislative criteria applicable to the Legislature’s plans, but the following criteria apply to the Commission’s plan proposals:
- Congressional: Max 1% population deviation; Contiguous; Reasonably compact; Preserve communities of interest; Follow natural, geographic, or man-made boundaries; Preserve cores or prior districts; Minimize divisions of municipalities and counties; Align boundaries between different types of districts.
- Legislative: Max 10% population deviation (but Legislature or Commission can adopt lower limit); Contiguous; Reasonably compact; Preserve communities of interest; Follow natural, geographic, or man-made boundaries; Preserve cores or prior districts; Minimize divisions of municipalities and counties; Align boundaries between different types of districts.
- PROHIBITED (Both): Purposeful or undue favoring or disfavoring of incumbents, candidates or prospective candidates, or political parties. Commission is permitted to adopt a standard prohibiting the use of any of the following: partisan political data; party affiliation information; voting records; partisan election results; residential addresses of incumbents, candidates, or prospective candidates. [Utah Code Ann. §§ 20A-20-302(4)–(7)]
Map Challenges: Not specified.
Ballot Measure & Referendum Processes
Types of Measures: Direct and indirect initiatives are permitted to amend statutes but not the state constitution. Referendums are permitted to amend statutes. Legislatively initiated ballot measures can amend both statutes and the state constitution.
Single-Subject Rule: Yes.
Initiative Subject Restrictions: No.
Signature Requirements: 5 preliminary signatures are required from sponsors who are residents of Utah and have voted in a general election in Utah within the last 3 years. “Active voters” as used below refers to the number as of January 1 immediately following the last general election.
Indirect initiative petitions require signatures equal to 4% of active voters in the state and 4% of active voters in each of at least 26 state Senate districts. If the Legislature does not enact an indirect initiative petition, proponents must gather additional signatures equal to 4% of active voters in the state. Direct initiative petitions require 8% of active voters in the state and 8% of active voters in each of at least 26 state Senate districts. Referendums require signatures equal to 8% of the active voters in the state and 8% of the active voters in each of at least 15 counties. Utah's Lieutenant Governor has not yet released the number of active voters as of January 1, 2023, which determines the number of signatures required for measures to be placed on the 2024 ballot, but when it does, that information can be found here.
Submission Deadlines: Initiative petitions must be submitted no later than the earlier of: 30 days after the day on which the 1st individual signed the initiative packet; 316 days after the day on which the initiative petition application is filed; or the February 15 immediately prior to the next regular election after the application is filed. Referendums must be submitted no later than the earlier of: 14 days after the day on which the 1st individual signs the referendum packet or 40 days after the end of the legislative session in which the law was passed.
Circulation Period: There is no specified circulation period for initiative petitions. However, if the proponents fail to secure the required number of signatures within the specified time period, they must submit a new application, obtain new signature sheets, and collect signatures again.
Ballot Title and Summary: A title for the proposed law is written by the proponents and the ballot title is written by the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. Expedited reviews for titles and summaries are permitted.
Other Requirements: A fiscal impact statement is required. Circulators must be at least 18 years old and a resident of the state. Measures that make changes to laws regarding the taking of wildlife or the season for, or method of, taking wildlife require 2/3 supermajorities to pass. The Legislature can amend a statutory initiative by majority vote. The Legislature can make technical corrections to an indirect statutory initiative. Laws passed by a 2/3 majority in both legislative chambers cannot be subject to a referendum. Initiatives are permitted on general election ballots but not on primary, special, or odd-year election ballots.
[Utah Const. art. VI, §§ 1, 22; Utah Code Ann. §§ 20A-7-101 – 20-A-801; Utah Lt. Governor Elections Website]
Previous Redistricting Cycles
- Original Plan – SB 3002
- Passed = October 17, 2011 (R-controlled)
- Signed = October 20, 2011
- Litigation History
- Original Plans – HB 3001 (House); SB 3001 (Senate)
- Passed = October 4, 2011 (R-controlled)
- Signed = October 19, 2011 (House); October 20, 2011 (Senate)
- Amended Plans – HB 286 (House); SB 125 (Senate)
- Passed = January 27, 2012 (R-controlled)
- Signed = January 30, 2012
- Litigation History
- Original Plan – SB 2002
- Passed = September 26, 2001 (R-controlled)
- Signed = October 11, 2001
- Litigation History
- Original Plans – HB 2001 (House); SB 2001 (Senate)
- Passed = October 1, 2001 (R-controlled)
- Signed = October 11, 2001
- Litigation History
In The News
- Utah Supreme Court asks for more arguments in lawsuit over redistricting maps, KSL.com (7/18/23)
- Utah high court scrutinizes process that sliced state’s most Democrat-heavy county into 4 districts, The Associated Press (7/11/23)
- How the U.S. Supreme Court may or may not upend a gerrymandering lawsuit in Utah, The Salt Lake Tribune (6/22/23)
- Utah Supreme Court Grants Legislature's Appeal in Redistricting Case, Fox 13 (1/7/23)
- Judge Won't Dismiss Redistricting Lawsuit, FOX 13 (10/24/22)
- Gerrymandering Lawsuit Moves Forward in Utah; Judge Rules no Need to Wait for U.S. Supreme Court, The Salt Lake Tribune (8/23/22)
- Utah Lawmakers Ask for Delay in Redistricting Lawsuit, FOX 13 (7/26/22)
- Voting Groups Sue, Say Redistricting Wrongly Diluted Voices, AP (3/18/22)
- Utah Redistricting Maps Underscore Independent-Panel Hurdles, AP (11/12/21)
- Utah Legislature Passes Congressional Districts Over Protest, AP (11/10/21)
- Utah House OKs Congressional Map Carving Up Salt Lake County, AP (11/9/21)
- Independent Panel Presents Proposed Redistricting Maps, AP (11/2/21)
- Mapping Tool is Live: How you Can Redraw Utah’s Political Boundaries, The Salt Lake Tribune (9/2/21)
- Utah Independent Redistricting Commission Launches Interactive Website, Gephardt Daily (7/14/21)
- Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee Launches Official Website, Utah Business (6/28/21)
- Utah has Fastest-Growing Population, 2020 Census Shows, AP (4/26/21)
- Will Utah's Legislature Extend the Redistricting Commission's Deadline to Redraw Voting Maps?, KSL.com (2/26/21)
- Utah has its Independent Commission to Help Redraw Voting Boundaries for the Coming Decade, The Salt Lake Tribune (2/1/21)
- How Census Delays will Impact Utah’s Redistricting and the New Independent Commission, The Salt Lake Tribune (2/1/21)
- Utah will Have Two Paths for Redistricting in 2021, Fox 13 (12/1/20)
- Herbert Makes Plea for Utahns to Fill out Census After Self-Return Rate Stalls, KSL (8/20/20)
- Extended Deadline to File Census Forms Gives Utah Officials Hope to Improve Survey Response, Deseret News (7/3/20)
- Census Shows Black Population Growing Slightly in Utah, AP (6/26/20)
- Report: 3 Utah areas top nation in population growth, AP (3/26/20)
- Utah Legislature passes changes to redistricting initiative, AP (3/11/20)
- More states to use redistricting reforms after 2020 census, AP (3/5/20)
- Lawmakers try to alter voter-approved redistricting reforms, AP (3/5/20)
- Americans continue to vote with their feet towards low-tax states, The Hill (3/3/20)
- Utah Senate committee pass changes to redistricting measure, AP (3/2/20)
- Redistricting law approved by voters at risk, supporters say, AP (2/21/20)