Equality State Policy Center researcher Sarah Gorin writes about Senate File 14, which would allow counties to adopt “hybrid” districting, establishing both single-member districts and an at-large district. Last year a U.S. District Judge rejected a hybrid districting proposal by Fremont County.
Although Fremont County’s county districting was done under federal court order and ultimately resulted in single-member districts, its initial response to losing the lawsuit was to offer a districting plan with a majority Native American district to elect one commissioner, and an at-large district to elect the other four commissioners.
This “hybrid” districting proposal was aimed at preserving the status quo as much as possible, and also was described as a kind of “political quarantine” for the Native American population.
SF 14 changes current law to allow hybrid districting. The ESPC has been working against the bill due to the potential for using hybrid districting to discriminate, not only in Fremont County but in other areas of the state where there are geographical concentrations of minority populations.
SF 14 has passed the Senate and was heard (on February 8 ) and again Thursday (February 10) in the House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.