Taking the GOP and DFL out of redistricting

An all-star line up of who’s who in Minnesota politics urged lawmakers to take the politics out of drawing their own district boundaries.  Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle quickly rejected the redistricting proposal from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs saying they can complete their constitutional obligation of making fair maps.  DFL Governor Mark Dayton remained open to an independent panel of retired judges doing redistricting responding “I support the principle, it depends on the details.” 

Former Vice President Walter Mondale spoke with Dayton about his initiative.  The cast of supporters also included former GOP House Speaker Steve Sviggum, former DFL Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, former IP gubernatorial candidate Tim Penny and former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz.   They say there’s an inherent conflict of interest by essentially allowing lawmakers to choose their own voters.  For almost half a century the courts have ended up drawing the lines.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Jerry Buerge on 03/11/2011 - 11:02 am.

    Creating politically free legislative voting jurisdictions is critical to any reasonable democracy worthy of the name.

    That is the ONLY way that the actual combined voice of the citizens within it can be acquired and then mixed with other jurisdictions to create a legislature that is representative of the entire state.

    Why is it not possible to create such divisions by the simple gathering of existing recognized land boundaries small enough to reflect rectangular areas that are closely uniform enough throughout the state to assure that both major political parties have to present their ideas to represent the citizens living within them, without the politically distorted grasping of known groupings of selective sure-votes favoring the political party that has obtained the power positions of the latest election following the last census.

    A fresh start based on such a division of the current state population is overdue.

    I hope that is the mission of this commission.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/12/2011 - 01:50 pm.

    If the courts have ended up drawing the lines for nearly half a century, ‘twould seem like ample proof that legislators canNOT “…complete their constitutional obligation of making fair maps,” despite claims to the contrary from GOP and DFL leaders.

    I’ve seen no evidence so far in the legislative session that the oft-referenced but seldom-attempted “balance” is part of the GOP agenda. Were the DFL in charge, as they apparently were for many years, the same self-protective maneuvering would likely take place.

    Either a commission like the one suggested by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, or else provide some extra funding for a judicial panel during the years when redistricting is an issue, and go ahead and write into statute that boundaries will be set by the courts from the beginning, with legislators purposely left out of the process.

    One politician’s “fair” boundary is another politician’s “gerrymander” at best, “outrage” at worst. It’s been that way for generations, and the only way that seems plausible for removing partisan politics and self-interest from the process is to keep the partisan politicians out of the process.

  3. Submitted by Don Oberg-Hauser on 03/17/2011 - 02:32 pm.

    You would think this is a no-brainer. When I first learned about gerrymandering in high school, even at that point, it was clear to me that legislatures being allowed to create their own districts was stupid.

    As Ray Schoch said, history seems to show that legislatures CAN’T do this on their own.

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