This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah County Republican Party officials, legislators and residents of the Cedar Hills area are moaning that their constitutional rights have been stripped away because they no longer have a voice in the state House of Representatives.
That's because Rep. Craig Frank, through a map-drawing error by the Utah County clerk, does not live in the district he was elected to represent and therefore has no constitutional right to serve.
Frank's Republican colleagues refused to push for a special session to fix the boundaries and hold a special election so he can keep his seat. And that leaves more than 2,000 people in Utah County without a representative.
I'd just like to tell those folks that thousands of Utahns who live in certain pockets of Salt Lake County, some in Tooele County and even some in southeastern Utah can feel your pain. They have felt disenfranchised for years.
But I can safely assume that all the people shedding tears for those voiceless Utah County residents never lost sleep over the disenfranchisement of their more liberal neighbors in Salt Lake County. In fact, I would venture to guess they slept like babies.
Admittedly, there's a difference here. Until the boundaries are tweaked, the Cedar Hills folks have zero representation now that it appears Frank will not be seated by his colleagues when the legislative session opens Monday. The residents of Salt Lake County and other liberal pockets of the state actually do have elected representatives although what amounted to the choosing of those lawmakers was done in secret 10 years ago, with their constituents having no real say in the matter.
I'm talking, of course, about the shameless gerrymandering by the majority party that went on in 2001 and will again this year that systematically neutered the impact of voters living in Democratic-leaning enclaves by combining those pockets with largely, and larger, conservative bastions.
In some cases 10 years ago, two Democratic legislative districts were collapsed into one, effectively reducing the ranks of Democratic legislators before voters ever hit the polls. For example, the partisan GOP map makers combined the House districts of Democratic Reps. Patrice Arent and Karen Morgan into one, giving them room to carve out yet another Republican district to add to their already commanding majority.
Arent decided to run for the Senate instead of slugging it out with her Democratic colleague Morgan. As it happened, Arent defeated a Republican senator who had helped rewrite the legislative boundaries that forced her from the House in the first place.
Two Democratic senators, Millie Peterson in West Valley City and Ron Allen in Tooele, also had their districts combined through Republican gerrymandering and they decided to run against each other. When Al Mansell, the Senate president at the time, was informed during the state Republican convention that Allen had defeated Peterson in the Democratic convention, he pumped his fist in triumph at this artful piece of gerrymandering. Never mind that Peterson, who had been popularly elected by her West Valley City constituents, had lost her seat not at the ballot box, but to the boundary boys in the back rooms of the Capitol.
So weep for yourselves, Cedar Hills residents. Weep over your disenfranchisement and the unfairness of it all. But while you weep, remember the phrase "what goes around comes around," because you probably never shed a tear over the pain felt by your more liberal neighbors.
And their pain was not inflicted by a clerk's mistake, but by something more sinister: thumb-in-your-eye abuse of an antiquated, undemocratic system that rewards the rankest form of partisanship.
E-mail Paul Rolly at firstname.lastname@example.org