A line in the sand over lines on the map

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 2:06 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The census doesn’t just count how many people live here, but also where they live. When people move, legislative lines need to be redrawn so each district can have the same number of people.

But the process being proposed in North Dakota has many concerned over fair representation.

Redrawing the lines takes a lot of time and each lawmaker has their own idea of what their district should look like.

The Legislative Council, which is responsible for helping draw the lines, says they make hundreds of drafts every 10 years.

Who gets to see those drafts is a contentious topic.

Every election, voters choose their representatives.

But Every ten years, the representatives get to choose their voters.

Before one line is drawn for the legislature, the voters are making sure they aren’t forgotten.

“We don’t want special representation. We want equal representation at the state level. We do have a lot of interest coming from our communities to engage in the political process here in North Dakota, but we don’t have that ability,” said Nicole Donaghy of ND Native Vote.

An overwhelming majority of districts saw their populations decrease over the past 10 years.

To keep an equal number of people in each district, rural communities will lose some districts to the cities, unless the number of districts goes up.

“I’m a rural district, and so I’m concerned about that. But at the same time, I’m not in favor of 51 or 53 districts either. And I’m not in favor of going down to 45,” said Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington.

The process will be the same, but with one notable addition.

Well, more of an exception.

According to the unfinalized rules, drafts of the lines would be kept from public records. Meaning the public nor even other lawmakers would be able to see their districts change until the public meeting.

Republican leadership and party members argue this approach is similar to any other law-making procedure.

Drafts of new bills don’t become public until they are introduced.

However, bills are made public well before they have a public hearing on them.

The director for Legislative Council said they will be looking at the wording of the bill and will be considering clearer language.

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