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What happens to your lawmaker if they switch districts?

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 5:34 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - North Dakota’s redistricting efforts won’t just create new lines, they will also create a new legislative body.

Because populations are booming in some cities and people are moving out of others, three district designations will be assigned to entirely different parts of the state. That means those lawmakers might be out of a job.

According to the census data, the population in 28 legislative districts is too small for their current shape. Meanwhile, 13 of them have too many people in them. To reach balance, the lines need to be moved.

So, while sitting lawmakers draw their new lines for the voters, they’re also drawing themselves out of the legislature. Jacob Notermann explains.

It’s not normal for committee visitors to have their backs to the meeting. But they’re trying to get a better view of map proposals.

Some parts of the state grew so much, they’re adding legislative districts. So far, four new urban districts have been proposed, but the math says only three can be chartered.

“As I’m doing this, I’m wondering what my fellow colleagues on this committee are doing, and it seems to go back and forth depending on where you are. If you are prioritizing current legislative lines, if you are prioritizing current county lines, and I’m finding it difficult for how we’re eventually going to come together,” said Sen. Erin Oban, D-Bismarck.

Those new urban districts have to come from somewhere, and that means it’s the rural parts of the state losing their seats.

That would be nine rural members lost.

Even the chairman of the Redistricting Committee proposed a map where he loses his own seat.

“When we started the borders, and work our way in, there has to be some places where a district has to be changed. And ours happens to be one of those areas. I will miss representing the people of District 23, but someone else will represent them. And I’m sure fine,” said Rep. Bill Devlin, R-Finley.

The other lawmakers who will find themselves in new districts will also have to make a choice: yield to the incumbents, or challenge their colleagues for the same seat. Some of them are also in the same party.

All of the plans have to come together soon. Next week, the committee looking at a draft proposal to submit to the full legislature. The final map is expected to be voted on in November.

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