MN redraws districts: What it could mean for future elections

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 7:35 PM CST
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ST. PAUL, MN -- Tuesday, Minnesota’s Special Redistricting Panel released new districting maps for the state.

The maps re-drew both congressional and state legislative districts.

This process happens every 10 years following the U.S. Census to account for population growth.

The state legislature was supposed to finalize a new plan by 12 p.m., February 15th.

Since they did not meet that deadline, the state’s judicial branch released new maps based on input from several different groups.

Minnesota’s 8th District, which spans most of Northern Minnesota, saw significant growth in the area.

“The biggest change, of course, the district had to get larger geographically because it needed more population to meet its threshold,” said Aaron Brown, an Iron Range political expert, and author.

The district saw a lower population growth than the rest of the state since the last census.

The 8th District now contains every tribal reservation in Northern Minnesota, gaining several counties in the western part of the state.

Brown said that could be a good thing for native representation on a national level.

“In a close election, it would emphasize the importance of those new votes in the 8th District from, say, the White Earth and Red Lake reservations, or perhaps a native person to run for congress,” he said.

Many of the state’s native communities have been trying to get that unified representation on a federal level for years.

Despite the different needs of each tribal nation, the new districting should help the tribal nations have more voting power.

With the new state map, however, the nations are still split in some areas.

“This is where you get that sort of disconnect between the constituency within a specific geographic district area and the partisan politics that might exist in that dynamic,” said Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera with Common Cause, an organization dedicated to fair redistricting.

Belladonna-Carrera argues that the state legislative maps need a lot more work to fairly represent those communities.

She said the courts try to keep the districts mostly the same, but the districts aren’t doing their job as they are.

“The court tries its best to do the best that it can, but is underserving, underrepresenting, under-capturing a very specific demographic in the state of Minnesota,” she said.

On both a state and federal level, Brown said it will be a while before the full effects of the new plan can be observed.

“Maybe it changes the discussion a bit to it being more of a true Northeastern Minnesota; more diverse interests than just Duluth and just the Iron Range,” said Brown.

The new plans from the courts are final but subject to appeal.

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