So we are having the most bizarre election controversy here in Utah. To appreciate the bizarreness of the case, I am going to tell you the end first and then bullet out the story. Rep. Craig Franks — a legislator from Utah County — found out himself that he does not live in his own district and is about to be removed from the legislature. Now here is the story.
- Franks wants to buy a new house. Before he bought it, he consulted his County Clerk’s election boundaries and — voila! — the house he wanted was in his district.
- He files to be a candidate for re-election in 2010. The County signs off on his candidacy forms. The Lt. Governor (who is the state election official) signs off on his candidacy forms.
- He goes to vote on election day in the precinct in which he is assigned by the County. He is on the ballot. He votes for himself.
- He wins. The County and the State certify his election.
Under the State Constitution you have to live in your district so they are kicking him out of his seat, even though, when he ran, he was told he did live in his district and was certified as living in his district. It turns out that the county maps were not accurate. The problem is the issue of language and annexation, as this story notes:
Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, an attorney who is providing legal advice to Frank, said information he has uncovered from the hearings and report from the 2001 redistricting committee calls into question whether legislators actually intended all of Cedar Hills, including Frank’s residence, to be in House District 57.
“It appears the maps may be wrong,” Valentine said. “The interesting question is: Is Representative Frank’s property in an area that was in Cedar Hills’ boundary at the time the committee adopted the map, because the text says [the line] is the Cedar Hills boundary.” The maps attached to the act setting the boundaries do not include Frank’s neighborhood.
When the Legislature was drawing the district maps, Cedar Hills was in the midst of annexing the land where Frank later built his home. If that annexation was completed by the time the maps were adopted, then the boundary — it could be argued — would have included Frank’s home, Valentine said. If he lived in the district the whole time, then he should continue to serve in the House. Frank lives in Valentine’s Senate district.