Be careful with district maps

Media outlets would be wise to verify that they have the correct district maps.

I’m just now catching up on all the news from the past few days. It looks like people might be a little confused about district maps.

To illustrate a story about Jim Matheson’s chances in Utah’s new 4th Congressional district, KSL displayed the graphic below (at left). Trouble is, the graphic at right is the correct map (from this source). If you look at the 4th district (the small one in the middle), you’ll see that this map is very different from the one KSL displayed. There are also substantial differences if you look at the Uintah Basin or at southeastern Utah. (Click the image to enlarge it.)

KSL's incorrect map (left) compared to the correct map (right)

Just to make the difference obvious, I’ve zoomed in on the 4th district in the images below. (KSL’s story was focused on the 4th district.) You can see that KSL’s map is very incorrect. One of the more visible differences is that KSL’s map appears to stop north of US-6, whereas US-6 cuts across the middle of the official map:

Utah's 4th US House district according to KSL (left) and official maps (right)

Maybe this is an easy mistake to make. After all, legislators and activists floated a LOT of maps during the redistricting process. Of course, now that it’s been two months since the legislature adopted its final map (on October 17) and the governor signed it (on October 20), media outlets would be wise to verify that they have the correct district maps.

Looks like Utah Rep. Fred Cox noticed KSL’s error, too. If you want to find official maps, he gives lots of links to places you can find them.

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About Adam Brown

Adam Brown is an associate professor of political science at Brigham Young University and a research fellow with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. You can learn more about him at his website.
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