Lawmakers debate priorities guiding redistricting process


Competing priorities marked Wednesday’s redistricting meeting, with some plans prioritizing preserving incumbents’ districts.

“It does at least keep the three incumbents in the District 24,” Rep. Craig Headland (R-Montpelier) said.

Other plans focused on keeping counties together.

“Every one of us so far has had conflicting priorities. That’s what’s going to happen because we did not come to any sort of agreement to the best of my knowledge as a committee before we all went into doing this. The very last principle is protection of incumbents on that list,” Sen. Erin Oban (D-Bismarck) said.

To accommodate for the state’s urban population growth and rural decline, one district could be added in Fargo while two could be added in the Williston area.

That means some rural districts could cease to exist in the same way — including District 26, whose Representative Kathy Skroch, urged committee members not to dissolve.

“It is just as reasonable to dissolve a central district as it is to dissolve District 26. People will be disenfranchised if their legislators are being put into an entirely different district where they no longer will be able to vote for those legislators,” Skroch (R-Lidgerwood) said.

But Vice Chair Ray Holmberg assured that any change in district shape would still abide by the one-person one-vote standard, meaning citizens of that district wouldn’t lose representation, but they may lose their current representative.

“They all will get to vote, they might vote for different people, but no one has been disenfranchised,” Holmberg said.

The entire legislature will reconvene in November to vote on the map.

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