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Voters should pick their representatives, not the other way around

I believe that many of us are worried about how well our government is working, including the state Legislature and Congress. It seems that politicians are more responsive to a lobbyist or a big donor’s influence than they are to their constituents. Often it seems that the will of the people is ignored.

One of the reasons for that is legislators might have no competition when it comes to re-election. When politicians draw the district maps after a Census they pick the voters they want. That is gerrymandering.

This is not as big a problem in Minnesota as in some other states, like Wisconsin. But it could be. In Minnesota our districts have been set up after each of the last several Censuses by judges because the legislators and the governor could not agree. The legislators tried to gerrymander and draw unfair maps. After the governor vetoed, the judges made them fairer.

We now have an opportunity to set up a different system where we the people actually can have some control over the process. The House Elections Omnibus bill, now in the Legislature, has language where maps would be drawn by an advisory commission made up of citizens and judges together who would draw the districts for the Legislature and Congress. The citizens would be selected in a process designed to reflect as much as possible the diversity of our state. The judges would be selected by the leaders of the House and Senate in the Legislature.

This advisory commission of citizens and judges would present their plan to the Legislature and governor for approval. The process would be transparent, with much opportunity for citizen involvement throughout. It would not be legislators behind closed doors.

Voters should pick their representatives, not the other way around. We need fair maps. We need no gerrymandering. Tell your state representative and senator and the governor that that they should support an advisory commission to draw district maps after the next Census.

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