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Idaho’s bipartisan redistricting commission reconvenes Wednesday

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Idaho redistricting commissioners will soon release their first draft of congressional district maps after holding public hearings across all regions of the state. (Clark Corbin/Idaho Capital Sun)

Commissioners looks to propose new congressional map by Thursday

Idaho’s bipartisan redistricting commission reconvenes Wednesday morning at the Idaho State Capitol with the goal of putting out a new proposed congressional map by the end of the day Thursday.

The six commissioners (three appointed by Republicans and three appointed by Democrats) are responsible for using 2020 census data to redraw the state’s 35 legislative districts and two congressional districts.

Last week, commissioners proposed a new legislative map, L02, that splits eight of Idaho’s 44 counties. One of the goals of redistricting is to divide the state into 35 equal parts, with an ideal district size of 52,546 people. The new legislative map has a total population deviation of less than 6%, ranging from 3.77% below the ideal district size to 2.14% above the ideal size of 52,546.

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Idaho’s bipartisan redistricting commission proposed new map L02 on Oct. 28. This screen shot captures some of the Treasure Valley. (Courtesy of the Idaho Commission for Reapportionment)

Redistricting occurs every 10 years to ensure political representation is as equal as possible.

Commissioners have already proposed two rough draft type congressional maps. This week, they hope to produce a more precise and refined congressional map based on feedback commissioners received touring the state earlier this fall.

At this point, commissioners are two-thirds of the way into the process, which is limited at 90 days under Idaho law. Commissioners convened Sept. 1 and have until Nov. 30 to submit their two maps and overall redistricting plan to the state.

The timeline gives commissioners a margin of safety, although commissioner co-chairman Bart Davis has said he hoped to wrap the process up ahead of that deadline because the state received the census data late due to COVID-19 delays, and because state and county officials will need to quickly take the new redistricting plan into account before the May 17 primary elections.

The new congressional and legislative districts will then remain in place for the next 10 years.

Under a loose timeline commissioners put forth last week, they hope to make any final improvements to the legislative and congressional maps Nov. 10 and then vote on whether to approve them.

It will take a minimum of four votes from the six-member commission to approve a map and redistricting plan.

Wednesday’s meeting begins at 10 a.m. in Room WW17 on the ground floor of the Idaho Capitol in Boise. Commissioners are also scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the same location.

Each redistricting commission meeting is streamed live online, for free, using Idaho Public Television’s Idaho in Session service.

The live streams are available by clicking on the link for “Commission for Reapportionment” on the schedule.

Each of the legislative and congressional maps proposed by the commission, as well as more than 50 maps created by the public, are available under the “maps” tab on the redistricting commission’s website.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state.