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Front Page » November 23, 2004 » Opinion » Letter to the Editor: Change districting process
Published 3,539 days ago

Letter to the Editor: Change districting process


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By WALT BORLA
Helper

Editor:

May I take this opportunity to compliment Richard Shaw for his informative articles on the Electoral College (Sun Advocate Oct. 21 and Nov. 2). As Mr. Shaw pointed out, voters actually cast ballots for electors who, in turn, cast the votes for the presidential candidates. Under the system, it's a "winner take all" situation whereby, however how slim or overwhelming the state's vote goes, all the electoral votes in the particular state are awarded to the candidate garnering the most votes. This applies in all states but Nebraska and Maine, where the electoral votes are allocated proportionately according to the percentage of vote each candidate tallies.

In my opinion the time has come to reform the Electoral College along the lines that apply in Maine and Nebraska. However, a state-by-state effort is not the best approach to reform. Colorado's effort to change to the proportionate system failed in the recent election. A federal constitutional amendment would be cleaner. By awarding all the electoral votes to one candidate, we are allowing the voting rights of the state to trump those of the citizens. For example, in Utah, with the overwhelming majority that one political party enjoys, a vote for the Democratic candidate is a vote in futility. In California it is the reverse. The presidential election wasn't supposed to be a pure popularity contest in which citizens had voting power and states had none, but it also wasn't supposed to be a pure republican process in which states had the ultimate power and citizens had none. We are not a pure republic, we have a democratic side as well. This is not referring to the two political parties, but the system of government.

This winner take all system means that presidential candidates ignore states such as Utah where it is almost certain to garner the most votes. Did you see Bush make a campaign appearance in Utah during the last election period? Or for that reason, what incentive did Kerry have to visit Utah. The same applied in California to some extent. A proportional method of counting votes would force candidates to pay attention to more states.

Voters deserve a more direct voice in choosing the president with a system that doesn't disenfranchise those who disagree with the majority in the state.

On another subject pertaining to Utah, it is time to take away the redistricting process for legislative and congressional seats from the state legislature and place the process in the hands of an independent commission. Redistricting takes place once every 10 years based upon the census figures taken each decade. The gerrymandering that takes place every 10 years by which every party controls the legislature is nothing short of outrageous. An example is right here in Carbon County where the legislature split up the traditional boundaries to redo legislative District 67. As set up by the Republican controlled legislature in 2000, North Carbon County, Carbonville, Westwood, Spring Glen, Kenilworth, Helper and Scofield are included in District 67. Along with them sharing the representative are north Sanpete County, the Fairview area, southern Utah County, parts of Payson, Santaquin, Goshen and Elberta as well as practically all of Juab County, Nephi, Levan, and Mona.

Now tell me, what does northern and western Carbon County have in common with the other areas listed above? We have been involved in a controversy with the Fairview area for years over the proposed Gooseberry Project, yet here we are in the same legislative district. Surely the majority party in the legislature grabbed this opportunity to put Carbon in a bad position in this respect and solidify their power base.

Why can't Brad King officially represent the entirety of Carbon County? He is efficiently doing this now despite not having all of Carbon County in his district.

What change would a move to have the redistricting process out of the legislature's hands have? Some states have taken this positive step?

Don't bet on it happening in Utah.


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