ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Reader's View: Support redistricting reform in Minnesota

When the outcome of the 2020 Census becomes known, changes in population will be used to reconsider district boundaries for legislators. Minnesota likely will lose one of its eight U.S. House of Representative districts and certainly will adjust ...

When the outcome of the 2020 Census becomes known, changes in population will be used to reconsider district boundaries for legislators. Minnesota likely will lose one of its eight U.S. House of Representative districts and certainly will adjust the boundaries for the 201 state legislative districts.

The state constitution empowers the Legislature to pass a bill specifying the geography for every one of those districts for the next 10 years. When a governor has vetoed the bill and the Legislature hasn't overridden the veto, or when the Legislature didn't pass a bill, high-level judges have done the job. In 1971, 1982, 2001, and 2011, that's what happened; in 1991, a procedural flub nullified the veto.

The results have been imperfect, of course, but political scholars believe Minnesota is one of the least gerrymandered states. This happy situation has arisen from luck, which may not continue.

If one political party was to control the governorship and both legislative chambers in 2021, good-government districting for at least a decade would be in danger. Bills introduced in the current legislative session, House File 246 and Senate File 370, would require that a panel of retired judges recommend district lines to the Legislature. House File 314 and Senate File 86 would forbid any legislative delegating like that. Citizens for whom greater governmental fairness is foremost should support House File 246 and Senate File 370 and oppose House File 314 and Senate File 86.

In 1980, a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution required that redistricting be done by a bipartisan commission. That proposal was favored by 58 percent of voters who voted on it, but it fell short by 3,125 votes statewide because voters who did not mark their ballot either for or against were tallied as voting against.

ADVERTISEMENT

David Schimpf

Duluth

What To Read Next