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IS SANDY VIOLATING ELECTION LAW?

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Sandy City could be in violation of federal election laws for failure to reapportion its voting districts this year.

"If challenged, a federal judge could step in and vacate the results of this year's election involving any districts that are far out of balance," Sandy Mayor Larry Smith said Tuesday.Particularly at issue is District 4 - the area south of Dry Creek at approximately 10400 South.

"It has grown dramatically over the past 10 years and now encompasses 31.31 percent of the city's residents," Smith said. "It should be 25 percent because we have four districts."

By comparison, District 1 has only 16.84 percent of the population. However, unlike District 4, the councilman representing District 1 was not up for re-election this year.

Every 10 years following the U.S. Census, all city/political jurisdictions are required by law to reapportion voting districts to ensure each has equal population.

"It's my opinion we should have done this in Sandy this year," Smith said.

The Sandy City Council, however, disagreed.

The council rejected two redistricting proposals submitted earlier this year by Smith's staff. The proposals were to:

- Divide the city into four quadrants with equal population in each.

- Expand District 1 to include everything west of 700 East.

"They (the council) opted to wait until next year to redistrict because there are always differences of opinion as to how it should be done. Either of the plans would have impacted current council elections," Smith said. "There's a problem any time you reapportion. It's a difficult thing to make the boundaries work in a sensible way and still accommodate everyone involved."

Despite resistance from council members, Smith continued to supported redistricting - especially after attending a June meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

There he was informed by legal counsel for the Republican National Committee that Sandy shouldn't wait for final census data before going ahead with redistricting.

"He (the attorney) said the courts had ruled very strongly that any districts that were more than 10 percent out of balance had to have a specific reason in order to not be ruled in violation of the one man, one vote requirement of the U.S. Supreme Court," Smith said.

Sandy's current voting districts are a total of 65.28 percent out of balance. "So we are very vulnerable to a challenge of our current districting plan."

Following the mayor's conference, Smith said he again brought up the redistricting issue before the City Council. For a second time, the proposal was shot down.

Smith maintains Council Chairman Ron Gee led the opposition, but Gee adamantly denies that charge.

"I wanted the reapportionment done before the election," Gee said. "It would have been to my advantage. But we couldn't get a consensus, so we didn't do it."

Previously Gee has run as an at-large candidate, but this year he was one of three primary candidates from District 4.

"The only reason I ran from District 4 is to better represent the people I know and deal with every day of my life," Gee said. "I understand the problems because I have lived there for 19 years and I know what the growth problems have been and want to protect the lifestyle there."

Gee will face former council chairman Ken Prince in the general election.