Idaho redistricting commission finalizing first proposed maps 

The ‘rough draft’ maps will be presented at public hearings next week

By: - September 10, 2021 2:26 pm

Redistricting commissioner Amber Pence works with the Maptitude software that will be used to redraw political boundaries during the Sept. 2 meeting. (Photo by Jim Max/For the Idaho Capital Sun.)

Idaho’s bipartisan redistricting commission was finalizing its first maps of proposed new political boundaries on Friday, in time for a series of public hearings that kick off next week. 

The new maps are initial proposals that satisfy some of the redistricting requirements. They are designed to serve as a jumping off point for public comment. Commissioners will develop more sophisticated, fine-tuned maps after hearing from the public.

“It’s a rough draft heavy on the rough,” commissioner Amber Pence said Friday. 


Although they are just basic proposals, the maps represent the first milestone for the six redistricting commissioners, three appointed by Republicans and three appointed by Democrats.

Commissioners have until Nov. 30 to use new 2020 census data to redraw Idaho’s 35 legislative districts and two congressional districts. 

The redistricting process takes place every 10 years and is required by the Idaho Constitution and the U.S. Constitution to ensure political representation is equal as populations shift.

Two of the commissioners’ main goals for this week were completing proposed maps and agreeing on a process for the public hearings. They met both goals. 

Commissioners will present three maps at the hearings, including one legislative map and two congressional maps.

One of the proposed congressional maps splits Ada County between the two congressional districts. The other proposed map doesn’t split any Idaho counties and would situate Ada County entirely within the first congressional district. 

For the past 10 years, Ada County — the state’s most populated county —  has been split between the two congressional districts. 

Although the process is technical, redistricting will have far-reaching effects on Idaho politics, elections and government for the next decade. The new maps will determine which district Idahoans live in, and therefore which candidates they will be able to vote for and who will represent them and their families in the Legislature and in Congress for the next 10 years. 

Redistricting won’t be easy, as commissioners are learning

It’s not merely enough for commissioners to split the state into 35 evenly divided legislative districts with 52,546 people. Commissioners face additional constitutional and statutory requirements, including splitting as few of Idaho’s 44 counties as possible, attempting to keep cities and communities of interest whole and avoiding drawing oddly shaped districts or districts that are not connected. 


Over the past two weeks of meetings, it’s felt a little like watching commissioners attempting to put a giant puzzle together while only being allowed to add a new piece after first solving a math problem. 

“One of the most important things I have learned in our process so far, which is a very short time, is the difficulty and the complicated processes of the numbers, getting the numbers to match,” commissioner Tom Daley said. “Making sure that every Idahoan is represented in one of the 35 districts adequately and that they can in fact feel comfortable that is taking place, that is our charge.” 

Next week’s redistricting commission public hearing schedule:

Sept. 15:

Caldwell, 1 p.m., Caldwell Public Library, 1010 Dearborn St., Dean E. Miller Community Room.

Nampa, 7 p.m., Nampa City Hall, 411 Third St. S., City Council Chambers.


Sept. 16: 

Meridian, 1 p.m., Meridian City Hall, 33 E. Broadway Ave., City Council Chambers.

Boise, 7 p.m., Idaho State Capitol, 700 W. Jefferson St., Lincoln Auditorium.


Sept. 17: 

Eagle, 1 p.m., Eagle City Hall, 660 E. Civic Lane, City Council Chambers.

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