Opinion: How to win an election

There are two ways to win elections:

1. Draw the district boundaries to make it easier for your candidate or party to win.

2. Campaign with ideas and policy proposals that appeal to people so that they vote for your candidate or party.

It seems obvious that choice number two is the appropriate and ethical way to win elections and it is the best thing for our society because it allows the voters to choose the candidates and policies they like. After the 2010 census the Utah legislature chose option one by drawing congressional boundaries that dispersed the Salt Lake City voters into three different congressional districts. The Utah legislature very effectively disenfranchised a large sector of the largest population area in the state. For part of the last decade there were no members of congress from Salt Lake County, by far the largest population county in the state of Utah, with nearly twice the population of any other county. That is unfair and a dishonorable way to run an election, even if you like the outcome. In 2021 the Utah Legislature has again chosen option one, allowing politicians to choose their voters rather than allowing voters to choose their politicians.

With significant demographic changes occurring in Utah now, and projected into the future, we need fair and accurate representation, not fear-based control of it. Utah citizens already voted in favor of that idea in 2018 with Prop 4 when the idea of an Independent Redistricting Commission (UIRC) was presented to them. The UIRC is designed to help protect democracy by ensuring that the people are being represented as opposed to political strategists. That is the best thing for our state, our nation, and our democracy. Political leaders can regain citizen’s confidence and trust by earning their seat at the table with voter supported ideas and not political shenanigans. Democracy means having confidence that your vote, and your voice matter.

In November 2021, the Utah legislature had the option to choose which method would be used in elections for the next 10 years. The Utah legislature could have chosen one of the maps of the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission, which were created without consideration of political parties, candidates or incumbent politicians. The UIRC made the political boundaries based on population, aiming to avoid splitting communities, cities and counties. Instead, the legislature chose to do things the way they’ve done in the past; allowing politicians to draw boundaries that favor themselves and their party.

Politicians should not choose their voters. Voters should choose their politicians.

Marc Coles-Ritchie is board chair of the Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah

Page Checketts is vice-chair of LDS Dems Caucus and lives in Sandy, Utah