Idaho must scrap redistricting commission, start over

Political leaders in Idaho have two days in which to scramble to appoint six new members to the state’s redistricting commission, thanks to a 2009 law barring previous commissioners from serving again. 

After the commission missed an early September deadline to settle on a new map for the state’s legislative and congressional districts, panel members expected the state Supreme Court to call them back to finish the process. But a rule preventing members from serving twice prevented that from happening, even though the first go-around yielded no results. 

Idaho has only two congressional districts – both held by Republicans – so redistricting shouldn’t have too much of an impact. But the contentious and unsuccessful first attempt by the commission parallels the difficulties bipartisan panels have had in other states where redistricting isn’t handled by the Legislature. 

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa has instructed those responsible for appointing the members - top Democrat and Republican in the state House and Senate and the heads of the two parties - to have their selections in by Wednesday. Those new members should be prepared to get to work by the following Monday morning. 

“We're strategizing right now, and not sure how we're gong to proceed just yet,” said Jonathan Parker, executive director of the state GOP. 

The do-over sparked concerns that a drawn-out process could run up against election deadlines, but Parker said if both parties are willing to compromise, they should be able to reach agreement fairly quickly. 

After the 2000 census, the dividing line between the two districts, which runs through Boise, was moved slightly to the west but didn’t dramatically change the political makeup of the districts.

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