City Council Election Districts

Downtown Boise and the Idaho State Capitol building

City Council Districts

During the 2020 legislative session, the State passed a bill (HB413) requiring cities with populations over 100,000 people to create districts for City Council elections.

While that bill was under consideration, city staff identified several practical and process related issues with the bill as written and spent the past year working with the sponsor of the original bill and a representative of the Attorney General’s office to draft an alternative (SB1111). Unfortunately, that bill was returned to the sponsor requiring the City to create and implement city council districts based on the original bill (HB419, KNA I.C. 50-707A).

Council Redistricting Transmittal Memo (PDF)

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City of Boise skyline and the Boise River

How were the districts drawn?

  • The map is based on recognized districting criteria and has a population margin of +/-5% between districts, which is required by the Voting Rights Act.
  • The districts are geographically contiguous and, with a few small exceptions, keep established neighborhood associations and county voting precinct boundaries whole.
  • Some boundaries were split to achieve the required population balance between districts and to make the distinction between one district and another easy to understand, such as aligning a boundary with a major street or corridor.
  • Due to the tight deadline imposed by the legislature, and the delayed release of 2020 census figures, these maps are based on 2010 census data. We did anticipate the growth that has taken place to avoid having to make extensive changes prior to the 2023 election cycle. This will also help the minimize the cost of adjusting the boundaries as the mandate to move to districts did not come with the funding required to do so.

How will this impact the November 2021 and 2023 elections?

  • For the upcoming 2021 election, Boise City Council seats 1, 3, and 5 will be up for election using the new geographic districts and for two-year terms instead of the standard four years.
  • These seats were chosen because they are where incumbents who are up for election (or would be up for election in the case of Council Member Thomson) currently reside. This a recognized districting criteria and is allowable under the law.
  • Council members elected to these districts this year will serve two-year terms.
  • In 2023 all six council districts will be up for election using a map that will be updated using 2020 census data. In 2023, odd-numbered districts will run for four-year terms and even-numbered districts will run for two-year terms so that council elections are staggered.
  • We cannot legally shorten the term that a current council member is serving.
  • If you live in a district (1,3,5) that will be up for election in November of 2021, you will be able to vote for one of the candidates running in that district. If you live in one of the other districts (2,4,6), you will not be able to vote for a council candidate until 2023.
  • The filing period for the 2021 city council election begins on Monday, August 23rd at 8 a.m. and closes on Friday, September 3rd at 5 p.m.

What will happen next and how can I get involved?

  • The map and implementation plan will be presented to city council in the form of an ordinance for first, second, and third reading on Tuesday, June 29th.
  • Comments on the map can be sent to citycouncil@cityofboise.org, there will not be an opportunity to comment at the Council meeting.
  • Thoughts on how you think the process should take place as we adjust the map for the 2023 elections can also be sent to citycouncil@cityofboise.org.
  • In early 2022, we will begin a process to engage residents on how to structure the process of updating the map. For example, should it be done by a commission, if so who should be on the commission, etc. We anticipate a robust discussion and look forward to hearing from our residents.

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