Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission submits final legislative district boundary proposal to legislature

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission (MDAC) voted 3-2 to submit its final legislative district boundary proposal to the legislature. The commission’s nonpartisan chairperson, Maylinn Smith, and two Democratic-appointed commissioners voted to approve the map, and the two Republican-appointed commissioners voted against it.

According to Nicole Girten of the Daily Montanan, “The legislature will have 30 days after submission on Jan. 6 to comment on the map before it gets kicked back to the commission, which will…meet again in February to receive recommendations from the legislature and will then have 30 days to submit the final map to the Secretary of State’s Office.”

MDAC Commissioner Jeff Essmann, who was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas (R), stated his opposition to the final proposal: “This map does have compromises, but I would not call it a compromise map. There are still significant differences that we have in viewing this map, as was evidenced even today.” Commissioner Kendra Miller, who was appointed to the MDAC by House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner (D), said that both the Republican and Democratic commissioners knew Smith, who was appointed to the MDAC by the Montana Supreme Court, would cast the tie-breaking vote: “They needed to put up what they thought was the very best map they had, that met the criteria and could get her vote…We had to put up a map that we knew was going to be superior on criteria, and that’s what we did.”

After the MDAC voted 3-2 to advance the proposal on Dec. 1 for consideration at a public hearing. Arren Kimbel-Sannit of the Montana Free Press wrote that the proposed map “yields 60 House seats that, to varying degrees, favor Republicans, and 40 that favor Democrats. Ten of the seats are considered competitive based on metrics the commission adopted earlier in the process, with five that lean Republican and five that lean Democratic.”

The MDAC voted 3-2 to enact the state’s new congressional district boundaries on Nov. 12, 2021. Both Republican commissioners and Smith voted in favor of that map, and the two Democratic commissioners voted against it.

More information about the final legislative map proposal—named “Tentative Commission Plan-3″—along with population and statistical reports and GIS shapefiles, can be viewed by visiting the MDAC’s website.

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