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COMMENTARY: The redistricting process is important to all of us

On Jan. 4, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up two cases that involve states using computer-aided mapping to draw House of Representative districts that would benefit one party over another. These cases involve one state controlled by Republicans and one state controlled by Democrats.

After the 2020 census, which is just around the corner, Minnesota will have to consider how to redistrict both for the U.S. House, Minnesota House and Senate seats. Depending on the census count, district boundaries could be realigned in major ways. Minnesota could even lose one U.S. House seat.

Currently, the law gives responsibility for redistricting to the legislature. In theory, the Minnesota House of Representatives and Minnesota Senate approve district maps and the governor signs off on them. But in recent times, the parties have not agreed, resulting in lawsuits and a panel of judges being appointed to redraw the maps. This wastes considerate time and money.

There has to be another way to solve this stalemate and make our democracy work better. The League of Women Voters (LWV) believes "responsibility for redistricting preferably should be vested in an independent special commission, with membership that reflects the diversity of the unit of government, including citizens at large, representatives of public interest groups and members of minority groups."

A proposal developed in 2008 by a broad-based coalition led by former Vice President Walter Mondale and former Governor Arne Carlson has been debated. The Center for the Study of Politics and Governance's Minnesota Redistricting Project was instrumental in development of the proposal, providing nonpartisan information and analysis to the coalition on Minnesotan elections.

The project also provided public education and engagement that helped place redistricting reform in front of the public and policymakers.

In May 2009, legislation based on the Mondale/Carlson proposal passed the Minnesota Senate, but did not advance in the House.

It is a priority of LWV for rules and procedures on redistricting to be settled before the census numbers are available. But citizens need to study the matter and communicate their thoughts to their elected officials.

Join LWV Park Rapids at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24 at the Northwoods Bank community room to watch a video of a panel discussion hosted by the West Metro Alliance of LWV last March. The video features Paul Anderson, former Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and Nick Harper, civic engagement manager for LWV Minnesota. They spoke about the history of redistricting and potential reforms. The video will be paused at various intervals to give those attending a chance to ask questions and discuss ideas.

The goal is to become informed about the issues of redistricting and how to support good policy for Minnesota.

During the viewing and discussion, pizza, coffee and juice will be available.

A special invitation is extended to anyone who was involved with redistricting in Hubbard County after the 2010 census to answer questions, such as what worked well and what were the problems then? What needs to be done before any new lines are drawn?

If you have any questions about the free event, contact LWVPRA at lwvparkrapids@lwvmn.org.

INFO BOX:

More resources on redistricting issues

• LWVMN position at https://lwvmn.org/where-we-stand/fair-district-maps.

• USC Annenberg Center redistricting game at

•" target="_blank">www.redistrictinggame.org/

What Works? Article from the Brennan Center at https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/analysis/Redistricting....