The concept of split North Dakota legislative districts for the state House of Representatives is not new or unfamiliar. The initiative was last discussed 20 years ago during the 2001 North Dakota legislative redistricting process. Most recently, the state capital’s newspaper, the Bismarck Tribune, endorsed split House districts, saying "Subdistricts also could boost the representation of rural areas in the Legislature. They wouldn’t give tribal nations or rural areas majority clout, just a more equal voice."
South Dakota has had two split districts that contain Native American reservations for many years. This concept brings better representation to historically disenfranchised communities and complies with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – a federal law that is over 50 years old.
Also, Minnesota utilizes split districts for the state House of Representatives, and it works well for them. Many political observers that live on the eastern side of North Dakota are familiar with Minnesota’s legislative system and how it works to better represent voters in greater Minnesota.
Surely, Forum Communications columnist Rob Port must understand why many cities and counties in North Dakota and around the nation utilize a ward or district system instead of an “at-large” system for their local governments – they use it to bring their government closer to the people. That's a good thing, Rob.
Port states in his Sept. 29 column, "If we're going to subdivide districts, we must do all of them or none of them." Honestly, I’m glad that at least two North Dakota districts that contain Native American reservations will be split for the state House. It will bring better representation to historically disenfranchised communities. I’m also glad that the North Dakota Legislature finally took steps in the right direction to comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Mary C. Tintes, West Fargo