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Montana districting commission adopts final congressional map

The final map dividing Montana into two congressional districts
The final map dividing Montana into two congressional districts

After one amendment, state officials Tuesday adopted a final map that divides Montana into two congressional districts.

The map creates east-west districts with Lewis and Clark County in the east. It splits Pondera County in north-central Montana.

The two Republicans on Montana’s Districting and Apportionment Commission proposed the map, saying it follows the mandatory criteria that dictate how political districts must be drawn.

Republican Commissioner Jeff Essman said the districts will produce good candidates.

“They’re gonna have to listen," he said. "They’re gonna have to campaign in every community in order to get to 50% plus one vote.”

The two Democratic commissioners adamantly opposed the map, saying it creates two safe Republican districts.

“The majority party shouldn’t be handed both districts," Democratic Commissioner Kendra Miller said. "This isn’t mathematically fair.

"It doesn’t comply with our goal. And it’s bad for our state."

The commission’s nonpartisan chairperson Maylinn Smith broke the deadlock last week to advance the Republicans' map. After the commission took further public comment on Tuesday, Smith sided with Democrats to approve one amendment to the map.

That amendment splits Pondera County following the boundary of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, leaving all of the reservation in the western district.

The commission has finished drawing congressional districts and now turns its attention to drawing 150 legislative districts, which must be finalized by the 2023 legislative session.
Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.