Utah’s perennially controversial, once-a-decade redistricting process is right around the corner. This year, though, there’s a far bigger threat than gerrymandering on the horizon. In a desperate attempt to maintain power, and consequently her Speaker’s gavel, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is pushing radical election reforms. Essentially, they will make elections less transparent and less accountable.
This perverse effort is poorly disguised as the “For the People Act.” Ironically, it takes power away from “the people,” as well as their local officials, and gives it to Speaker Pelosi. Your local clerk will no longer set your local election policy. The reins will be handed over to a Democrat-controlled Congress, where the partisan majority will write new rules and tilt the field in its favor.
Democrats are telling you that HR1 will secure elections — they’re counting on Americans not doing their homework. The bill’s provisions speak for themselves: Override voter ID requirements; prohibit voter list maintenance; mandate same-day voter registration that will make elections harder to secure; and more.
This policy will not end gerrymandering. It will just let Democrats do the gerrymandering. Right now, redistricting is done by lawmakers you can remove from office. If Democrats get their way, it will be done by so-called “independent” commissions that don’t answer to voters. Even worse, the members of these commissions will have to meet very narrow criteria written by House Democrats.
Arizona voters recently learned this the hard way. Their map was heavily gerrymandered in favor of the Democratic minority. Even the left-leaning Washington Post gave Arizona a high score on their scale of gerrymandered districts. But, because of an “independent” commission that mapped the districts, voters had no recourse. Democrats want to do this at the federal level. We can’t let Utah, or the rest of the country, fall victim to the same partisan manipulation as Arizona.
In essence, HR1 eliminates your ability to hold someone accountable for bad gerrymandering. Nothing about this partisan behavior is “for the people.” It’s for Democrat’s liberal agenda.
This political motivation is clearly demonstrated in one of the qualifications to join a commission: A religious test. It requires that candidates disclose “any involvement with, or financial support of, professional, social, political, religious, or community organizations and causes.”
That gives the partisan majority in the state legislature the power to exclude certain people depending on their politics. This includes Christians, cops, gun rights advocates or those who affiliate with pro-life caucuses.
Right now, Republicans control 61 state legislative chambers to Democrats’ 37. This includes trifectas — control of the House, Senate, and governorship — in 38 states. Pelosi’s commissions are a means of covertly imposing partisan gerrymandering by the minority party.
In other words, she doesn’t like how Utahns are voting, so she’s taking the matter into her own hands. Her bill is a transparent attempt to hijack American democracy by manipulating future elections.
As Utah legislators move forward with a challenging redistricting process, they do so with the knowledge that voters are watching. So, within the current incentives, lawmakers risk losing their seats if the maps they draw are egregiously gerrymandered.
If HR1 becomes law, these legislators will no longer be accountable to you — the people. Voters need to reject this partisan power grab before Democrats take away your ability to do so.
Chris Stewart represents Utah’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Utah State Rep. Paul Ray represents the 13th district.