The debate over split state Senate districts for the North Dakota House of Representatives during the last few months has been interesting to watch. With the upcoming special session of the Legislature, we’re hoping for more discussion on this important topic.
Lately, there has been conversation in some political circles about how splitting just a few districts may be unfair. To be clear, the decision to split only these districts has to do with avoiding a lawsuit based on the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
To solve the debate about fairness, we believe that all proposed 47 districts should be split for the House. We know that this is not in the Redistricting Committee’s proposal, but it should be reconsidered going into the upcoming special session. Split districts would bring the government closer to the people throughout the whole state. We think that most of us would prefer to be represented by one person who understands their priorities and lives fairly near to them, instead of being represented by two persons who do not.
As a close observer of the 2021 North Dakota redistricting process, there are some flaws that need to be pointed out. These flaws include blatant incumbent protection, disrespect of time slots scheduled for public comment, agendas not being posted in a timely fashion, and draft maps not being posted prior to most meetings.
Ultimately, that’s why North Dakota needs to join the many other states in the U.S. that have independent redistricting commissions. Such a commission could either be established through action by the Legislature, or else it would have to go to the voters in the form of an initiated measure.
We look forward to the ongoing discussion about redistricting during the upcoming special session of the Legislature.
Carol Sawicki, chair, North Dakota Voters First, Fargo