Advocacy group concerned over the redistricting of North Dakota’s House and Senate districts

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An advocacy group concerned with redistricting of the state’s House and Senate districts held a news conference Wednesday morning, laying out their concerns.

The group is made up of North Dakota Voters First, League of Women Voters of North Dakota, North Dakota Native Vote and Badass Grandmas — and it wants to encourage people to become involved in the redistricting process.

Every 10 years, when new Census data is released, the state is required to determine the best way for residents to be fairly divided into house and senate districts.

Ellen Chaffee of the Badass Grandmas for Democracy says that when the 2010 Census was completed, the redistricting committee — made up of state legislators — was not fair and used its power to benefit just one party and its legislators and candidates.

“A very powerful legislator who was on the redistricting committee last time set out to protect people and succeeded,” Chaffee said.

This year’s process promises to be a more open one, with more opportunities for citizens to both listen and take part in the proceedings.

“One of the exciting things about this redistricting process is that it’s self-contained and this year it’s going to be very accessible to everybody because of the virtual participation,” she said.

The 2020 Census showed the urban areas of the state getting larger, while the rural areas are losing population. This will make a major difference in how representatives and senators are distributed for the next decade.

“I would highly encourage anybody who is like yeah, I know this is like important but I’m not sure where to start to actually start with Googling it. Go and Google your state House district and look at it and then look at your city map or your county map and see where those lines are drawn and often it doesn’t quite make sense,” said Katie Fahey, the executive director of The People.

The 2021 Redistricting Committee, made up of 14 Republican and two Democratic legislators, will hold its first meeting Thursday at the State Capitol.

The Advocacy Group has four major goals it’s working toward:

  • Each district, both Senate and House, have similar populations, within reason
  • Districts should make sense and be as compact and contiguous as possible
  • The district should take into consideration boundaries that are already in place — tribal nations, school districts and townships
  • Each district keeps groups with similar interests such as racial, ethnic or immigration status together as much as possible

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