Competing priorities bringing rifts in redistricting process

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 5:07 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - It’s becoming crunch time for North Dakota’s legislators, and they’re taking every minute leading up to their meeting to look over and discuss their maps and their colleagues’ maps.

While proposals have been presented for the past month, so have the different priorities lawmakers have used to drive their pens throughout the state.

“Every one of us so far has had conflicting priorities. That’s going to happen because we did not come to any sort of agreement, to the best of my knowledge, as a committee before we all went into doing this,” said Sen. Erin Oban, D-Bismarck.

The biggest debate of the day was about prioritizing incumbency over keeping entire counties together.

Some lawmakers have stated publicly they drew lines in certain places to protect their colleagues’ places in the legislature, while others say the addresses of the incumbents shouldn’t play a factor... much to some committee members’ chagrin.

“I sense that there’s this idea that we don’t really care about incumbents or that incumbents aren’t important, because that could impact us or may not impact us. But the incumbents represent people who voted for them. That’s very important to make sure that those incumbents are in the district where people voted for them,” Rep. Austen Schauer, R-West Fargo.

And there’s a lot at stake, because it’s a puzzle where the pieces don’t change for 10 years.

The committee overseeing the new lines submitted their full draft of the new state map earlier today. We will have more on those details and competing maps Thursday, as well as some lawmakers speaking out in opposition against the maps after finding out they’ve been drawn out of the legislature.

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