In a democracy, we are supposed to choose our elected representatives. However all too often, through sophisticated partisan gerrymandering tactics, our representatives are really choosing their voters. Election Day is when we get to have our say, and we need to reform the rules so every vote matters.
Redistricting is the way we adjust the boundaries that determine who represents us in Congress and the state legislature. Fair redistricting is fundamental to a functional democracy. Even when the population is divided equally, drawing the lines one way:
- can reward one party while punishing another;
- can protect incumbents and
- can guarantee they will face a potent challenger (from their own party or the opposite party).
Consequently, redistricting has a direct bearing on which issues a legislative body chooses to tackle, and which it ignores.
What is redistricting?
The United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 4, grants states and their legislatures primary authority in determining the “times, places, and manner” of congressional elections. Congress may also pass laws regulating congressional elections. Article 1, Section 2, stipulates that congressional representatives be apportioned to the states on the basis of population. This means Minnesota’s share of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives is based on the size of our population relative to that of other states; we currently have eight seats in the House. Census results also dictate changes to the boundaries of our 134 state House districts.
To learn more about our Minnesota redistricting process go to this link.
Process – What happens?
In Minnesota, congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn by the Legislature. The political party holding the majority in the House and Senate when the redistricting bill comes up controls the process.
The redistricting process begins with bills introduced in the Minnesota House and the Senate and assigned to legislative committees for review and revisions. To learn more about how a bill becomes law in Minnesota here.
When does redistricting happen in Minnesota?
Every 10 years, in the year following the Census, state legislatures rearrange the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts. Redistricting is supposed to reflect changes in population and ensure that everyone is fairly represented. But by manipulating the lines, moving friendly voters into pockets of strength and breaking up areas where they and their allies typically run weakest, members of the majority party — Democrat or Republican — can have a big impact on who’ll represent you in the statehouse and in Congress.
Is there a role for me to play in Minnesota’s 2021 redistricting cycle?
Yes. Yes. And yes. Start by signing our petition.
Minnesotans are supposed to choose their political leaders through the vote, but in the past, our political leaders have tried to manipulate the process to choose their voters. National and state parties continue to pour tens of millions of dollars into computerized systems and legal teams to redraw the maps in ways that remove even the slightest risk from elections. This has created a national epidemic of gerrymandering that poses a growing threat to our democracy, serving the wants of special interests while drowning out the voices of Minnesotans. The lack of competitive races highlighted by unchallenged incumbents is not out of the ordinary here. It’s time for a change!
Join our Redistricting Action Team.
The next redistricting will be in 2021, after the 2020 census. You can hold our state’s line drawers accountable by paying attention and speaking up as the process unfolds. Join our Redistricting Action Team by signing up below. Call your state legislators and tell them you want a fair redistricting process. Sign our petition demanding a bipartisan, common sense solution — an independent redistricting commission.
Common Cause Minnesota and our allies are working for an independent redistricting commission to ensure your vote is protected, that district lines are drawn fairly, and that districts represent the communities they serve. We will propose redistricting reform measures, track developments, and make your voice heard. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay on top of these local developments.
Join us in the movement for fair maps!