Judge Imposes Timeline to Create New Voting Districts in San Juan County, UT

Jul 5, 2016

The boundaries of the county-commission districts in San Juan County, Utah, which have been found unconstitutional, will not be redrawn in time for the 2016 election, but a federal judge has laid out a timeline for new districts to be created.

San Juan County is the only Utah county that elects its commissioners by district  rather than at-large. In February of this year, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled in favor of the Navajo Nation in a lawsuit against the county. He found that the districts violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because one, District 3, is 90 percent Navajo, while the other two are only about 30 percent Navajo. The county’s population is about half Navajo, half Anglo, but the county commission has always had at least two Anglos. In a June 28th order, Shelby stipulated that each party in the suit must file a proposed remedial districting plan by July 14th, along with an explanation of the methodology used to arrive at that plan. The parties are to file any objections to the plans by October 12th, and on December 8th, the court will hold a hearing to take evidence and hear arguments before arriving at a final plan. The District 1 commission seat, currently held by Bruce Adams, is the only one that will be on the ballot this year.