Town split into three parts to give American Indians control

The PBS NewsHour was excited to report about the political situation in San Juan County, Utah.  The NewsHour claimed that the county had been gerrymandered so that the American Indians were relegated to only one of three county supervisor seats.  And it is true that the American Indians are a majority of the population of the county.  One district had 93% American Indians, while the other two had 30% each.

A liberal judge found this unacceptable because the second and third districts elected white representatives.  He redrew the districts to give the American Indians a majority in two districts, effectively giving them control of the county.  But because the Indian population outside the reservation is so spread out, the liberal judge had to cut the largest town in the county, Blanding, into three parts to give the American Indians a majority in two of them.

The originally drawn districts kept most of the American Indian community together and didn't split towns into several parts.  The original districts, which were called "gerrymandered," kept communities together.  The newly drawn districts, by splitting a major town into three parts, is actually much more convoluted so that in two districts, white voters are 20% and 35% of the population, to reduce their voting strength.

When the votes of American Indians are perceived to be diluted, even if the districts are drawn in a relatively compact way, that's called gerrymandering.  When new districts are drawn that break up the white population, with tentacles reaching in every direction, that's called historic.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at Newsmachete.com.

The PBS NewsHour was excited to report about the political situation in San Juan County, Utah.  The NewsHour claimed that the county had been gerrymandered so that the American Indians were relegated to only one of three county supervisor seats.  And it is true that the American Indians are a majority of the population of the county.  One district had 93% American Indians, while the other two had 30% each.

A liberal judge found this unacceptable because the second and third districts elected white representatives.  He redrew the districts to give the American Indians a majority in two districts, effectively giving them control of the county.  But because the Indian population outside the reservation is so spread out, the liberal judge had to cut the largest town in the county, Blanding, into three parts to give the American Indians a majority in two of them.

The originally drawn districts kept most of the American Indian community together and didn't split towns into several parts.  The original districts, which were called "gerrymandered," kept communities together.  The newly drawn districts, by splitting a major town into three parts, is actually much more convoluted so that in two districts, white voters are 20% and 35% of the population, to reduce their voting strength.

When the votes of American Indians are perceived to be diluted, even if the districts are drawn in a relatively compact way, that's called gerrymandering.  When new districts are drawn that break up the white population, with tentacles reaching in every direction, that's called historic.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at Newsmachete.com.