Election day is coming up on Nov. 3. This year, House Joint Resolution 4 will be on the Idaho ballot. House Joint Resolution 4, or HJR 4, is about changing the language currently in Idaho’s constitution about the number of Idaho’s districts.
The Idaho Constitution currently states that Idaho can have between 30 and 35 districts. HJR 4 would amend the constitution to require 35 districts. There are currently 35 districts in Idaho. During Idaho’s legislative session, lawmakers argued that having fewer districts would mean less representation for Idaho citizens. Requiring 35 districts would mean representation would always stay the same.
Scott Bedke, Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives, said it is important to vote yes for HJR 4 to help individual representation have the most impact.
“The reason [this] is important is because… just ask yourself, would you rather share your legislator with 50,000 other people or with 65,000 other people,” Bedke said.
The statehouse passed HJR 4 65 - 3 and the state senate passed it 31 - 4. Bedke said the vast majority of the state legislature thinks HJR 4 will benefit people in Idaho.
“There is a two-thirds requirement to put this on the ballot, and we surpassed 90% in the state, in the house and the senate. Both Republicans and Democrats alike thought this was a good idea,” Bedke said.
There is a connection between HJR 4 being on this year’s ballot and the census. Bedke said the legislative districts are redrawn every time a census is collected. He said by voting yes, citizens will retain their same number of representatives, rather than allowing the possibility of that changing.
“In Idaho, our constitution says we can have as few as 30 legislative districts or as many as 35 legislative districts. Since the very first day, we have always had 35 legislative districts,” Bedke said. “The effect of voting yes on HJR 4 would be to say going forward, we will always have 35 districts.”
Idaho State House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel and Idaho State House Speaker Scott Bedke recently released a joint oped highlighting why they will both be voting for HJR 4. The document also addresses concerns some may have about voting for HJR 4. To view this document, click here.
More information about the pros and cons of HJR 4 is available online at sos.idaho.gov.