Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission enacts new congressional map

On Nov. 12, the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission enacted a new congressional map following the 2020 redistricting cycle. The commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the map and to transmit it to the Montana Secretary of State. Both Republican commissioners and Maylinn Smith, the nonpartisan tiebreaker, voted in favor of the map, and the two Democratic commissioners voted against the map.

A version of the congressional map enacted by the commission had previously been approved on Nov. 4. The map that received final approval on Nov. 12 made a minor change in Pondera County, allocating a smaller portion of it to the Western district.

Following the approval of the congressional map, Democratic Commissioner Kendra Miller said: “Neither district on this plan is seriously competitive. The two districts together don’t adequately represent the overall makeup of our state. And for that reason, this plan has been drawn to unduly favor one political party.” Republican Commissioner Jeff Essmann said: “In terms of the Western district, you know, as it’s drawn, this is not, whether it is represented in the future by a Democrat or Republican, it will never be considered a safe seat in the 10 years going forward that would permit any candidate to not listen to the voters of that district.”

Following the 2020 census, population increases in Montana gave the state two congressional districts. Previously, the state had one at-large congressional district. The next deadline ahead of the commission will be preparing a legislative redistricting plan by Jan. 14, 2022, the 10th day of the upcoming regular legislative session.