GREAT FALLS — Great Falls residents gave feedback on new proposed legislative districts at a public hearing Wednesday at Great Falls College - Montana State University; the hearing was one of seven initial hearings scheduled for this September as the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission enters the third phase of the redistricting process.
The bipartisan four person commission, consisting of two Republicans and two Democrats, had each commissioner draft a state legislative map for the public to consider. The first round of public hearings are scheduled to go until end of September. After that, the commission will enter a "quiet period" ahead of the November general election.
The final map will set district boundaries for 150 state legislative seats across Montana.
Republican commissioners Dan Stusek and Jeff Essmann said in August they prioritized creating compact districts and minimizing split communities in their maps.
Dave’s Redistricting App, the online redistricting tool that the state used to share the proposed maps, calculated “partisan lean” for each district. The site estimated Essmann’s map to have 60 Republican districts, 25 Democratic and 15 in the competitive range. The site estimated Stusek’s map to have 58 Republican, 23 Democratic and 19 competitive districts.
Democratic commissioners Joe Lamson and Kendra Miller said they wanted to highlight competitive districts to help make the Legislature's partisan balance closer to statewide vote totals.
Lamson's map was estimates to have 49 Republican, 31 Democratic and 20 competitive districts and Miller's to have 50 Republican, 32 Democratic and 18 competitive districts.
People interested in submitting public comment can learn more at the state's Districting and Apportionment Commission's website.
In addition to submitting comment through the hearings, the public can submit information through the contact webform on the commission's website.
People can also email the commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People can mail comments to:
Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission
PO Box 201706
Helena, MT 59620
The commission will hold three more meetings in person. One on Sept. 12 in Pablo and two on Sept. 15 and 16 at Crow Agency and in Billings. The other two meetings will be held via video conference.
The next meeting will be 10 a.m. Friday via video conference.