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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Redistricting Commission Deadlocked On Chairperson Vote

Graphic: Montana Public Radio News, Politics

The two Democrats and two Republicans in charge of redrawing Montana’s political map failed Monday to agree on the fifth and final member of their group. The state Supreme Court will now step in to pick the tie-breaking member of Montana’s 2020 redistricting commission.

The commission will reshape election districts for the next 10 years for both state legislative races and, depending on the outcome of the 2020 census, Montana’s second U.S. House seat.

Over the last 50 years of redistricting cycles the partisan commission members have been unable to agree on who should lead them as chairperson, who will cast the deciding vote on how Montana's political boundaries are drawn.

Monday’s meeting of the 2020 commissioners lead to the same deadlock result following public input about candidates.

After Republicans and Democrats took turns offering suggestions, and each of their nominations stalled on a 2-2 party line vote, Republican Jeff Essmann called to end the meeting.

"There’s no sense continuing a charade that, you know, we’re gonna to try to reach a consensus," Essmann said.

Montana's Constitution now requires a majority of the state Supreme Court to pick the final member. There is no timeline at the moment for the court to announce their selection.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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