Gerrymandering in Danger in Minnesota

by Matt Ball on January 13, 2008

The practice of tailoring political districts to favor the political party that is in power is in danger in Minnesota. A group of Minnesota politicians, including former vice president Walter Mondale, is looking closely at the bias and voter distrust that is inherent in the current system, and is advocating reform.

According to the story in the Star Tribune, the process of redrawing congressional districts every 10 years after a national census allows the incumbent politician to pick their electors rather than the other way around, resulting in too many ‘safe’ seats. This issue is gaining importance in this state, since it’s projected that they could use a congressional seat due to population shifts in other states.

These Minnesota lawmakers are urging a reform that’s already in place in Arizona. In that state, a commission of judges decides political boundaries, with a strict timeline that doesn’t allow for political wrangling. I think it’s a great idea to make our electoral practices more fair and balanced. Next up for reform is getting rid of the electoral congress.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Leszek Pawlowicz January 13, 2008 at 5:32 pm

As someone who lives in Arizona, I can tell you that the process didn’t exactly work as well as it should have. The commission wasn’t comprised of judges, but rather of citizens selected by application: two Republicans, two Democrats, and one independent (though the last in this case turned out to be more of a Republican than an independent). Although the commission members were expressly prohibited from considering the residence of current legislators when drawing up new districts, turns out they did. And while they were supposed to draw up legislative boundaries based on areas of common interests and natural boundaries, in the end boundaries were strongly influenced by current political interests as expressed in the latter stages during public meetings, comments, and active lobbying. The final results may have been a bit better than they were in the previous round, but evidence of gerrymandering isn’t hard to find. Perhaps in the next round, in 2011, things may go better.

Curmudgeon Geographer January 14, 2008 at 8:38 am

Just a nit, Minnesota won’t lose a seat due to population loss. It will be because their population gain is not as great as other states growing at a breakneck speed. Minnesota has been growing.

Matt Ball January 14, 2008 at 10:25 am

Thanks for the population clarification.

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