During a February 2020 meeting the five commissioners in charge of drawing district lines for state legislative and congressional elections learned about challenges the current lines pose for county officials in charge of administering elections.

The commissioners also discussed their questions for an upcoming staff review of the legal parameters for their work.

Bret Rutherford and Regina Plettenberg spoke on behalf of elections administrators across the state and described the lessons they learned from the previous round of redistricting from 2009 to 2013. Rutherford, the election administrator for Yellowstone County, showed state legislative lines that cut through property or whose physical location was difficult to determine. Plettenberg, the Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder, asked the commission to work closely with election administrators near the end of the line-drawing process to make sure that small boundary problems could be cleared up before final maps were adopted. Both speakers invited the commissioners to attend a summer gathering of the election administrators.

The commissioners then listed their questions an upcoming review of legal issues that the commission will need to consider when drawing district lines. They also amended their operating procedures to clarify when public comment may be taken over the phone or through a video-conference.

The commission will meet again in Helena on June 10. More information about that meeting will be available in May on the commission's website.

Commission website: https://leg.mt.gov/districting/2020-commission/

The Legislative News.